How will Edison's scandals affect accreditation?
FORT MYERS - With a school in turmoil, students and faculty fed up, Edison State College's reputation is in the hands of a special group that's now on campus.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, wraps up their four-day on-site visit Thursday.
The organization will determine next June whether or not the college gets to keep its accreditation, which is crucial to the college's future.
Fox 4 caught up with SACS Vice President Dr. Barry Goldstein Wednesday but didn't get a lot of insight into the group's thinking.
"Given the chaos that surrounds the college right now," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant, "is their re-accreditation in jeopardy?"
"I can't answer that," said Goldstein, who says the decision isn't up to him.
The string of scandals is creating uncertainty for Edison.
"The commission on colleges is very aware of all the issues," said Goldstein.
And that appears to violate a major SACS requirement which says "recruitment materials and presentations" must "accurately represent the institution's practices and policies."
"Is the nursing accreditation scandal going to weigh in on any of your decisions?," asked Grant.
"There are principles that relate to recruitment materials," said Goldstein. "The committee is looking at...all of that as a totality."
Another SACS requirement is proof the school is operating with integrity.
"Based on what you know about the nursing accreditation scandal," asked Grant, "does that jibe with the integrity principle?"
"I can't comment on that," said Goldstein.
It may come as a surprise to some but the SACS team won't be considering a number of other scandals in its evaluation - things like President Ken Walker's controversial salary, the no-confidence vote he got from faculty or hasty firings.
"That has no [bearing] on, again, the principles," said Goldstein.
The SACS visit wraps up Thursday with a meeting summing up their findings. That meeting has been opened to the public via video screen.
"It is usually the preference of SACS that the exit interview...be restricted to only a few people," said Walker in a statement.
"However, in the interest of transparency," said Walker, "I have asked for and have been given permission to make an exception to this normal procedure and allow that this exit interview be observed by our faculty, staff and Board of Trustees."
The exit interview will be telecast starting at 9 a.m. on the Lee campus in the Walker building AA Room 177.
Matt Grant, Reporter