FORT MYERS, Fla. - Edison State College has been cleared of any wrongdoing after an independent investigation into claims of racial discrimination. The report by Fort Myers Law Firm Henderson, Franklin and Starnes found conflicting statements and not enough evidence.
Steve Atkins, the VP for Academic Affairs at Edison, told the independent investigators he was "100% sure" there was racial discrimination at the school. He says Vivian Lilly wasn't immediately offered the Dean of the Nursing Program because she's black.
School President Kenneth Walker has been adamant from the beginning such discrimination didn't occur.
"There hasn't been racial discrimination, or any other kind of discrimination, here ever. I've been here for 20 years and I know that as a fact," said Walker.
Atkins told the panel former administrator James Browder told him Edison "has had back luck with hiring out-of-state African-Americans." But Browder claims he never made any racial comments and was referring to "out-of-county" hires.
Lilly settled with the school for $85 Thousand earlier this month, under the condition she won't sue. Walker still supports the decision to settle with Lilly, despite the new report. He calls it a business decision.
"It would be a lot more expensive and a lot more time consuming and take away the time of the staff to go forward with this matter," said Walker.
WINK News tried to reach out to Atkins to see if he still believes Lilly was the target of discrimination, but he didn't return our email requests for comment.