Wakulla Commission Candidate Says TCC Oyster Lawsuit 'Political'

Oct 13, 2014

Tallahassee Community College is facing a potential lawsuit over its new oyster program at the Wakulla Environmental Institute. In a statement announcing the intent to sue, former WEI student John Taylor of Sopchoppy says TCC has not upheld its end of the program.

Students in a pilot oyster aquaculture program were promised $7,500 in materials to start their own businesses growing oysters in Panacea. The students would repay the money from the first oyster crop—set for January of next year. But in the complaint, Taylor says TCC hasn’t delivered the materials needed. The school has also had trouble getting the proper permits for the program.  

Another part of the complaint centers on the qualifications of Steve Cushman, who was hired to teach in the Oyster Aquaculture Program. Cushman’s contract, signed in January, and expiring in May, shows him making about $3,648 for the semester.  Taylor alleges Cushman is not qualified to be an instructor. A spokeswoman at TCC says the pilot oyster aquaculture program does not have the same instructor requirements as a regular program would because it is non-credit.

"Tallahassee Community College has received a letter of intent concerning a threatened legal action from Flury & Atkins on behalf of John N. Taylor, a participant in the pilot Oyster Aquaculture program," says TCC Spokeswoman Alice Maxwell. "We believe that this potential lawsuit action has no merit. TCC attorneys are reviewing the notification and the circumstances surrounding the letter."

Cushman, who is a candidate for Wakulla County Commissioner, says the complaint is part of ongoing political attacks against him.