NEW HANOVER COUNTY — During an awards ceremony at the August staff meeting, Sheriff Ed McMahon presented former Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday with a recognition of his long service to the county and his partnership with the Sheriff’s Office.
The ceremony took place on Wednesday morning at the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (NHCSO) and apparently consisted mostly of uniformed officers. Holliday and his wife were also honored (photos of the event were, at the time of publication, housed on the NHCSO flickr account).
Holliday received an award, made out to “James Rickie ‘Doc’ Holliday” from Sheriff McMahon; the award was embossed with the following message: Thank you for your many years of service to New Hanover County and for your partnership with the New Hanover County’s Sheriff Office.
Holliday retired amid numerous allegations that he and other New Hanover County School (NHCS) administrators mishandled cases of sexual misconduct, harassment, and civil rights violations. He is currently named in a civil suit, filed on behalf of alleged victims of former teacher and convicted sex offender Michael Earl Kelly. The suit currently has six plaintiffs, but attorneys say they expect more could join.
The district as a whole is also the subject of an investigation being carried out by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI); the state agency took over at the request of District Attorney Ben David and Sheriff McMahon. In a press release, announcing his request that the SBI take over the investigation, David stated:
In the course of carrying out their duties, prosecutors in my office and deputies in the Sheriff’s Office may be interviewed about the facts of the underlying sexual assault case, creating a conflict of interest for both of our offices to continue handling the current allegations. An examination of the facts by outside investigators and a review of the evidence by outside prosecutors will remove even the appearance of impropriety and should satisfy the concerns that any decision is based upon facts and law and not based upon long-standing relationships of professionals whose very oaths of office put them in constant communication with each other. Everyone in the community should welcome a thorough review of these troubling allegations by agencies with no local ties.
New Hanover County School Board issued a brief statement on the civil case expressing sympathy for Kelly’s victims, but did not address specifics. Holliday has not responded to numerous requests for comment over the last several months.
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Jerry Brewer said Sheriff’s McMahon’s recognition of Holliday was not related to any current civil suit or investigation; Brewer said the Sheriff’s Office saw nothing inappropriate about the gesture from the Sheriff.
“The Sheriff simply wanted to recognize Holliday for his years of service, it’s a partnership that we’ve had for a long time, and that’s all the plaque was really acknowledging,” Brewer said, adding that McMahon himself started as an SRO, working at Laney High School in the 90s.
Holliday served the New Hanover County School district from September 1, 1982 until his retirement, effective August 1 of this year.
- Deputy Superintendent September 18, 2013 – August 1, 2019
- Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services – October 1, 2007
- Executive Director of Instructional Services – July 1, 2004
- Principal Laney High – July 1, 1998
- Principal Williston Middle School – July 15, 1996
- Principal Lakeside High School – July 1, 1995
- Laney High School Assistant Principal – Jul 1, 1988
- Laney High School Teacher/Coach – July 1, 1982