Florida School on Defensive After Band Performs at Clinton Rally

clinton

The public school system in Palm Beach County, Florida is looking into why students from Suncoast High School performed at a political event for Hillary Clinton in Riviera Beach. Andrew Marra, reporting for the Palm Beach Post, said students were transported by bus to the Port of Palm Beach for a rally originally planned to spotlight Clinton, but which featured her husband, former President Bill Clinton, instead.

Approximately 600 people showed up in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid where videos and photos seem to show the Suncoast High School’s cheerleaders and band performing live.

There is, however, a policy that bans students from participating in political rallies. When a politically conservative website, The American Mirror, reported the occurrence, the school district announced that the activity was under investigation.

“The School District of Palm Beach County, by policy, does not allow students to perform at political events or rallies,” the statement said. “This should not have happened, and it won’t happen again. We are looking into this.”

Suncoast High School has been, and continues to be, in the midst of turmoil after the school’s band director, Ernest Brown, ran up thousands of dollars in debt on school band accounts for personal use during a European school trip.

Supporters criticized the school district and former State Attorney Michael McAuliffe over racism for attempting to prosecute and dismiss Brown, but the decision was postponed. Brown continues to direct the well-known Suncoast High School Chargersonic band, and all criminal charges have been dismissed. Brown did serve a 10- day suspension, according to Jason Schultz of the Palm Beach Post.

Now comes the current investigation, which is looking into the roles played by Principal Linda Cartlidge, soon-to-be-retired, Brown, and the cheerleading coach concerning the students’ performance at a political rally.

School Superintendent Robert Avossa stated that the band director knew the performance was part of a political event and said so on the paperwork he provided for Principal Cartlidge.

WPEC-TV’s Michael Buczyner writes that an unnamed official revealed that the Port of Palm Beach Commissioner and former congressional candidate Jean Enright invited the students and made arrangements for them to perform at the event unbeknownst to the candidate or the rally’s organizers.

But Enright says it was Clinton’s campaign organizers who asked the Vice Chair of Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party to find a school band to perform at the gathering. She explains that she was only doing what had been asked of her. Enright added that the students seemed very excited to see a former president.

Avossa said he was surprised that a school administered by a veteran principal would have made such a mistake. The superintendent did advise that there seemed to be no political agenda on the part of the adults involved in the performance.

As the presidential campaign continues, Avossa emphasized the importance of not allowing any school-sponsored participation in formal or informal political events.

Although it is not known who footed the bill for the performance, the students were transported in a school bus which ran up a bill of roughly $400 in transportation costs. The Palm Beach Post’s Sonja Isger and Andrew Marra report Avossa added that depending on what is uncovered by investigators, the outcome could result in anything from a written reprimand to the loss of a job.