Booster treasurer testifies on third day of Ellis hearing

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Calvin Ellis’ appeal hearing will take a recess until the end of January after the third day of testimony saw the booster club treasurer speak about the club’s finances.
Because of scheduling conflicts, Wednesday was the last day this week that both hearing officer John Compton and attorney Jim Keith, who is leading the Tupelo school district’s case against Ellis, were both available. The next time both have a full week clear is the week of Jan. 30, which is when the hearing will resume at the Hancock Leadership Center at 9 a.m.
Ellis was dismissed as Tupelo High School choral director on Oct. 28.
Terri Stewart, the treasurer of the Tupelo choral booster club, spent 51/2 hours on the stand Wednesday as the lone witness called.
Stewart relayed concerns that Ellis charged the booster club choreography fees for songs that the show choirs did not use, that he often did not turn in his receipts for expenses paid on the booster club credit card and that he used that card to pay for dinner with his wife and visiting choreographers.
Stewart testified that Ellis overspent the budget by nearly $2,000 on a trip to Birmingham last year by keeping Wave Connection there an extra night, taking the students to an expensive restaurant and having a party.
On cross-examination, Ellis’ attorney, David Butts, pointed out that the reason several of the choreographed songs hadn’t been used was that copyrights hadn’t yet been obtained, noting that that can still happen at a later date.
Under questioning, Stewart said that several committees also had exceeded their budgets and that those committee budgets were the responsibility of committee chairs.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

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