February 20, 2024

Mother of Viera High hazing incident victim files to run for Brevard School Board

2 min read

By: Florida Today

The mother of the victim of a hazing incident at Viera High School has filed paperwork to run against Brevard Public Schools board member Matt Susin in November’s election.

Avanese Taylor said that before the August incident, she had never given any thought to running for office.

“The things that happened here in Brevard have completely changed my trajectory,” Taylor said in a telephone interview with FLORIDA TODAY.

In August, a number of Viera High School football team members wearing “Hawk Nation” training gear, shirts and helmets simulated sexual acts and attempted to pull the pants off Taylor’s son in a 41-second video that was widely shared on social media.

FLORIDA TODAY is withholding the name of Taylor’s son to protect his privacy. He now attends a different school and is receiving counseling, Taylor said.

Two community members later emailed school officials alleging that similar behaviors have been taking place for several years, with one person writing that actions having “recently escalated to the level in which they turn off the lights and the victims are having their clothes forcefully removed and then jumped/humped viciously by a gang of upperclassmen.”

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident.

Todd Brown, spokesperson for State Attorney Phil Archer’s office, said the office had received BCSO’s completed investigation, though he didn’t say when. He said he could not offer any “comment, status or disposition info” because the case involved juveniles and no felonies.

The district carried out its own investigation. They have not released it, saying it was exempt from public records. 

Taylor, who is on active duty in the Navy and is stationed at Patrick Space Force Base, said she understands student privacy concerns limits what the school district can say about the incident. Still, she thinks officials could be more forthcoming.

“I think there is a level of transparency you can have,” she said. “The way you handle families matter.”

Susin, who was chair of the board at the time of the incident, said he wished Taylor the best of luck. “That’s what democracy is all about, heathy competition.”

When first contacted by FLORIDA TODAY, Susin said that he knew somebody had filed to run against him, but didn’t know who it was. When informed of Taylor’s identity, Susin’s comments remained the same.

“I look forward to a healthy debate,” he said.

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