During the 2022 Primary Election, we broke a story revealing that then candidate for Brevard Public School (BPS) Board Gene Trent lied on his employment application with BPS. The application asks if applicants have EVER been arrested, to which Mr. Trent marked no. A simply background check revealed at least 2 arrests in Mr. Trent’s criminal history. After our report, the School District launched an investigation into the allegations. One day after Mr. Trent voted on Brevard County’s new Superintendent, the District finally released the findings of that investigation. Mr. Trent pushed for his former boss, the Principal of Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School to take on the new position, who was ultimately selected yesterday.Letter-to-Trent-re-Closeout
During the campaign on October 19th, 2022, Mr. Trent appeared on conservative talk show radio host Bill Mick Live and addressed the allegations. In the now deleted podcast, Trent stated that he believed the question only applied to arrests that lead to a conviction. However, that is not what he told investigators when questioned about the allegations. When asked, he told investigators that because they were low-level crimes, and the amount of time that had passed, he felt like “he didn’t need to check ‘yes’.”
After publishing our article, it prompted two anonymous complaints to be submitted to the School Board’s Ethics Hotline by citizens who were not identified in the report. The results of the investigation are as follows.
According to the Human Resources Department at BPS, School Board Members who were employees of the District prior to being elected, normally take a leave of absence while serving in their elected positions. According to the report, Mr. Trent instead resigned from his position. By resigning, BPS would not be able to terminate him for the violation as outlined in the District’s policy.
Under current BPS Policy, individuals with any arrest history are prohibited from being a volunteer in the schools. Ironically, under this policy, both the School Board Chair Matt Susin (who also has an arrest history), and Gene Trent would be disqualified from being able to volunteer according to their own policy.
There were a total of 5 other allegations revealed in the investigation, most of which went unfounded. The only other allegations mentioned which we reported on was the allegation that Mr. Trent was back dating tests taken by students during the eight grade State testing during Spring of 2022 as a testing coordinator and authorizing re-tests as a math teacher.
The investigators requested clarification of the complaint from the anonymous complainant with the email address email@example.com but never received a response. As a result the allegation went unfounded.
The investigation was facilitated by Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell, P.A., a lawfirm based out of Orlando. It was completed December 21, 2022. After receiving the results of the investigation, the District requested a second review of the findings by another law firm, Fisher Phillips, which concurred with the original findings on April 4, 2023.