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Band director fired for allegedly using ethnic nicknames, making sexual comments to students

Band Director James Wilkins leads his band students during the Heritage High School 2012 graduation ceremony at the Heritage High Stadium. / FLORIDA TODAY FILE

The Brevard (Fla.) School Board voted 5-0 to fire popular Heritage (Melbourne, Fla.) band director James Wilkins last week for "alleged professional misconduct."

In a four-page letter, which you can read in its entirety here (warning: there's some graphic language in the blog post preceding the letter), superintendent Brian Binggeli outlined seven reasons why he was recommending Wilkins be dismissed.

Among the reasons: inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to students, mistreatment of students, inflicting person injury upon a student, permitting the use of ethnic nicknames for minority band students and mishandling of funds.

Wilkins allegedly told two students that a female band member played her woodwind instrument in a manner that looked like an act of oral sex. "The exact language you used is too graphic to repeat in this public record," Binggeli wrote.

MORE: Full Coverage from Florida Today

According to Binggeli's letter, Wilkins also called a white band student who improved his dance skills "Soul Train." A Hispanic student was commonly called "Panchero's" and an Asian student was referred to as "Pocahontas."

“I think probably any one of those by themselves could stand to reason for a person to be terminated,” board member Michael Krupp told Florida Today. “Unfortunately, that’s the direction it’s going to have to go.”

Wilkins' attorney said his client will challenge the termination and said a request has already been made to start the court process.



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