Categories: Brevard County Public Schools

Heritage High School Band Director Accused of Misconduct

PALM BAY, Florida — Brevard County Public Schools are remaining rather hush on an ongoing disciplinary case where Heritage High School Band Director J. Bernard Wilkins has been accused by students of inappropriate conduct.

Michelle Irwin, Director of Communications for Brevard County Public Schools, said in an email that the alleged misconduct was only verbal in nature with three “official concerns documented.”

Irwin added that school officials were notified of the alleged misconduct within the last 21 days.

The alleged misconduct also opened a case with the Palm Bay Police Department.  Police spokesperson Yvonne Martinez said in an email on Saturday that the police report should be completed early this week.

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  • Those complaints are from the same parents that whine and complain the whole year even in band parent meetings! Mr. Wilkins is a caring and compassion instructor and expects the best from his students. I got so sick of hearing those same parents that were on the news complain about stupid things I stopped going to the meetings. This is so ridiculous. He has created on of the most disciplined, well trained and exciting bands Brevard County has among all the other fantastic High School Bands!

  • I believe fully the allegations are not only false, but with malicious intent. Further I believe, the "Anonymous" 2 above (October 22, 2012 11:07 PM) alleging to be a teacher of Brevard County, then proceeding to mock the original commenter for their Language Arts ability, is outrageous and uncalled for! Clearly written by a high school student, the use of grammar, composition and spelling is above average. The response, however, is uneducated, broken and improperly phrased. Back to the subject of Wilkins. The taunts demonstrated by high school bands go back as far as the early 50's. Just as the football team themselves have exhibited. Do we not all remember the famous 1991 Palm Bay High Pirates taking the notorious Cocoa High Tiger mascot - life-size stuffed animal - and ripping it apart for all the students to see? Football is a game of rivals, and antics are part of the fun. Just as the cheerleaders will at times mark their bloomers for a cheer stunt.Wilkins has taken high school marching band to a dramatic college level. It's impressive, and more than demonstrative of discipline and hard work. He is a strong leader, and holds a no tolerance level for misbehaving. He is dedicated, caring and a fine example of what students in this day and age need.The alleged victims? Liars at best, and should be held fully accountable for their statements. No one commented on their body parts, and certainly not a teacher who is accused merely because the parents of these disturbed young ladies didn't get their way - or felt things should be run as they wanted. The band program is run on merits. And the parents of these children need to come to terms with that.

  • It's funny because I was in the first 9th grade class at Heritage and I was also the first class to have Mr.Wilkins and he is rude and inappropriate. I also know all the names he would call students and teachers behind their backs. There is a difference between criticizing and trying too hard to fit in with the ignorant kids and degrading the kids who are quiet and try really hard. I have had a good amount of friends in the band who have cried over the comments he makes and dropped out of band because they felt they weren't good enough even though they were amazing. Don't push perfection if you're far from it, all I have to say.

  • This comment sounds as if it has been written by the teacher in question. As one of the "whining" parents, I am only protecting my child and reporting issues that appear to be detrimental to that child. None of the Wilkins supporters commenting on this page were there when the abusive incidents occurred, however; I was present, so I have the facts and witnessed at least some of the events described. No one has said that this teacher has never done anything positive for these students, but the terrible things that were done have led to a toxic and negative atmosphere for these students. To make matters worse, when this teacher was allowed back into the classroom after his first "paid administrative leave", he broke all of the new rules and restrictions implemented as a result of his previous conduct. Furthermore, each and every one of these students and parents have been avid participators in the band activities, and as such, have never had any issues with rewarding or disciplining the students based upon fair rules and consequences. Inappropriate comments were addressed to each of these students, and to others who came forward at first only to be intimidated into changing their stories. This band has a history of hazing, excessive discipline, singling out specific students for punishment for the purpose of intimidating either the student or the parent. This director has retaliated against students and parents who have expressed concern and has worked diligently to cause rifts between and among parent volunteers. My child definitely does not need a teacher such as this in "this day and age." My child also does not need a "father figure" that is abusive, inconsistent, and that shows favoritism (even if my child is the favorite, as has at times been the case). The excessive discipline, singling out of students for punishment when no misbehavior has occurred, withholding of water and the ability to use restroom facilities for up to 8 hours, and the lack of music instruction are not acceptable, however; the most heinous complaint against this teacher: that of sexual harrassment in the form of sexual comments, propositioning of a student, sexual comments about band parents to a student, and other comments of a sexual nature made to students about other students take this to a completely different level of abuse that is worse than unacceptable. As I stated before, I KNOW that at least one of the complaints is true because it was made on behalf of my child and I find it highly offensive that my child and my family are being called liars.

  • I just can't wait till all of the information is released and this band can get back to normal for these kids. We have a great group of kids and they deserve to have a band free from the negativity of Mr.Wilkins. He did not create a show style band, it's nothing new they have been around for a long time. Mr. Wilkins is a rude pompous man, that has a history of being a jerk. He is totally dis-respectable to students, teacher and parents. Although this band is different and they are talented, they could be so much better with a positive leader. I am certain that the reason he is not teaching has nothing to do with any students,parent or complaint. He is gone due to his own actions. There is no one to blame but himself; he is the one that caused this and no else! He decided that he was above the school polices and procedures. It is just a shame that he has personally created this entire mess and then stands back and allows a handful of students and their ignorant parents to blame those that he has abused the most. The poster is spot on with his comments, take a look at the facts, he can't keep kids in this band. He runs them out with his hatred and unethical behavior. We need a band director that will MAKE A DIFFERENCE not one that thinks he is the DIFFERENCE!

  • Aren't you the one that opened a Band Facebook page and he ripped you a new Ass? You came to one parent meeting, and you have never once volunteered. You can't even pick your kid up from practice. In fact the ones you talk about that are the same parents complaining are the ones taking care of your kid and driving him home! The problem with this band is that a handful of parents put their kids in band because they cannot discipline their own children they can't control them. They dump them off and and expect Mr. Wilkins to raise them. That is why so many "think" he is a father to them. They have no idea what is going on in band and they have no idea what is happening with their kids, they just know that they don't have to deal with it! You want your band director back??? Your a dancer you need a dance instructor not a band director! I would hope that the administration has learned their lesson and will hire a dance instructor if they even allow the dance girls back. They need to be distanced from the band director, this is NOT there band!

  • I agree he needs to be fired, however no one looked into his interactions when he was instructing Orchestra. We had to take our son out of Orchestra after 5 yrs because of his bullying ways and humiliating students in front of the entire class. He is nothing but a "BULLY" and needs to be fired and his teaching license taken away. He over stepped his boundries as an instructor and should be ashamed of himself, Heritage High is better with out him, infact they have a new Orchestra instructor this year, since Wilkens left Orchestra previous students have rejoined Orchestra including my son and he is loving it again. We need teachers that can make a differnece by teaching not "Bullying".

  • I hope that you have shared your views with the school district, and let them know. I am sorry that your child was also bullied by this man but happy that he has returned to what he enjoys. I never understood why Heritage High put up with him as long as they did. I hope they yank his teachers licence for good!

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