TAMPA — Tracey Seenath, the former Hillsborough County School District clerk charged with stalking a principal and his wife after he ended their relationship, agreed Tuesday to serve four years of probation.
In exchange, her charges, which included a felony count, were reduced to four misdemeanor stalking offenses. The plea deal might have enabled her to return to work for the district, but she has resigned, according to district spokesman Stephen Hegarty.
Seenath, 40, agreed not to contact former Freedom High School principal David Sheppard or members of his family, or the family of his late wife, Donna Sheppard.
Donna Sheppard drowned nearly a year ago in the family swimming pool in what the Sheriff's Office concluded was a suicide. Her death came shortly after David Sheppard was investigated by the district about his relationship with Seenath, and subsequently resigned as principal.
Sheppard and Seenath worked together previously at Wharton High School, where he was an assistant principal and she was a guidance secretary.
For more than a year after Sheppard ended their relationship, Seenath sent texts and emails to Sheppard expressing her distress about the outcome. She also wrote about the relationship and sent the information to neighbors, other district employees and Donna Sheppard's mother in Pennsylvania.
Seenath declined to comment Tuesday.
The deal, which Judge Tom Barber approved a week before the case was to go to trial, calls for Seenath to perform 200 hours of community service and undergo a mental health evaluation.
While her resignation ends matters in the school district, members of Donna Sheppard's family are not satisfied.
Shortly before the hearing, family members were given a letter of apology, which the State Attorney's Office had requested. In it, Seenath wrote, "I communicated to set the record straight about my relationship with David Sheppard. I was hurt, frightened for my job, and afraid."
After expressing her regrets, Seenath added: "While David Sheppard spoke to me about issues they had in the marriage, he did not give extensive details of her mental health and physical issues. Were I aware, I would never have become involved in the first place."
Donna Sheppard's relatives contend she had no mental health problems.
"They're nice and they apologized about everything, but it still puts me without a sister," said Michael West, Donna's brother, who was in the courtroom.
"The family feels that it's still not explainable, you know? Everybody that knew Donna knows she did not do that to herself. Regardless, it's because of those two (David Sheppard and Seenath) that she's not here."
Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @marlenesokol.