A Brevard County Public Schools principal was arrested this morning and charged with the possession of child pornography. Rick "Ricky" Delano Sheppard of Melbourne, Florida, age 59, was arrested after a federal warrant was issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security agents.
Sheppard started his career as a teacher with Brevard Public Schools in 1981. He worked at Port Malabar Elementary from 1981-1984 and later taught at Creel Elementary from 1985-1989 and was promoted to the position of assistant principal. In 1995, he transferred to Gemini Elementary as only a teacher where he remained until 2003.
While at Gemini, Sheppard was investigated for inappropriate conduct with a student in 1999. As a result of the investigation, he was reprimanded for "inappropriate gifts and comments made to a first grade student." Notwithstanding the reprimand, he remained employed with Brevard Public Schools.
Sheppard later taught at Freedom 7 Elementary from 2003-07, then was promoted to assistant principal in 2007. Sheppard transferred to Stevenson Elementary in 2009 as an assistant principal until 2015.
Despite having a questionable employment record regarding his interaction with children, Sheppard was promoted by the Brevard Public Schools administration to the position of Principal at Spessard Holland Elementary School in Satellite Beach, Florida in 2015.
In this video and following transcript, Sheppard thanks those responsible at Brevard Public Schools who helped him become principal:
"Congratulations to Mr. Rick Shepard on his recent re-classification and transfer from the position of Assistant Principal at Stevenson Elementary School to the position of Principal at at Holland Elementary," said Brevard County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Desmond Blackburn.
"Thank you," Ricky replied to Dr. Blackburn. "At the risk of sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech, I would certainly would want to thank the Board, [former] Superintendent [Brian] Binggeli, Superintendent Blackburn, [former Central Area Assistant Superintendent ] Mrs. [Kathryn "Jane"] Cline, and Mrs. [Central Area Coordinator Sherri] Bowman, for their confidence in me to lead Holland elementary school as this new school year begins. I'd also like to thank my previous Area Superintendent Dr. [Laura] Rhinehart and [Debra 'DJ"] Crannell whose support and leadership has been immensely helpful."
"My two mentors, Mrs. Dorine Zimmerman, Principal at Freedom 7 Elementary, and Michael Corneau, the Principal at [Robert Louis] Stevenson [Elementrary], for providing me with the leadership opportunities, and opportunities to expand my knowledge to the Stevenson community. It's been a big part of my life for the past five years, and I'll certainly take a lot of that with me," Sheppard continued. " And to Tiffanny Fleeger, Assistant Principal at Holland, and the Holland community that has welcomed me with open arms and warmth since I arrived on July 1st, and help me confirm that I am right where I need to be. Thank you."
The arrest comes on the heels of allegations made by School Board candidate Dean Paterakis that the current School Board and administration are doing little to remove, and even promote, teachers with questionable sexually-related conduct around students.
During a recent School Board meeting, Paterakis had attempted to bring up 2014 incident where a BPS teacher was only suspended for 10 days for showing students a picture of his penis but still remains employed by BPS.
At the urging of School Board member Amy Kneesy, School Board Chair Andy Ziegler disrupted Paterakis' three minutes of public speaking time about the teacher's inappropriate sexually-related conduct. A BPS security officer then grabbed Paterakis by the shoulder and arm without his consent while pushing down a microphone to intentionally disrupt Paterakis' allotted speaking time. Uniformed Brevard County Sheriff's deputies then removed Paterakis from the meeting and charged him with resisting arrests and disrupting a school function. The arrest made national headlines.
Photo and video credit: BPSTV