The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office has dropped all criminal charges against Suncoast High School band director Ernest Brown. But Superintendent E. Wayne Gent’s recommendation that the school board fire Mr. Brown did not depend on a finding that he had broken the law. The financial mess Mr. Brown created and the district’s finding that he used $15,000 in school funds to send family members to Paris on a band trip still would justify a decision to terminate him.
Several of Mr. Brown’s family members who traveled for free on that 2008 trip were not even Suncoast students. Mr. Brown’s supporters have disputed the allegation that some Suncoast students were left behind because they could not pay while his family members traveled for free. Still, to cover the roughly $100,000 shortfall caused by awful planning for the Paris trip and a previous trip to London, money was shifted from student accounts that had nothing to do with the band.
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