By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Former Tupelo High School choir director Calvin Ellis and his attorney have asked U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock to step down from presiding over his lawsuit against the school district.
Ellis seeks damages from Tupelo Public School District on claims he was wrongfully fired in 2011.
In a motion filed late last week, the judge is asked to leave the case because she was an adviser and school board attorney while she was in private practice and that a relative by marriage, Beth Stone, offered the motion and voted to fire Ellis while she was a TPSD trustee.
Stone, now the board’s president, also is “a material witness” in the lawsuit, his motion states. She is the wife of Dr. James E. Stone Jr. of Tupelo, who reportedly is a cousin to Aycock.
Ellis filed his lawsuit in federal court last November and Aycock was assigned the case.
In March, the school district filed a motion asking Aycock to find in its favor without going to trial.
Ellis’ attorney, David Butts of Tupelo, writes in the new motion that Aycock “is placed in the untenable position of being perceived as biased by any objective, disinterested person” to favor TPSD, which he said justifies her stepping down for another judge.