Circuit judge denies petition in Ellis firing case

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Circuit Court Judge James L. Roberts Jr. denied on Friday a petition filed by the attorney for fired Tupelo High School choral director Calvin Ellis.
Related to Ellis’ appeals hearing, David Butts asked the judge to order hearing officer John Compton to issue subpoenas to three attorneys connected to the school district’s case – Jim Keith, Kelly Stimpson and Otis Tims.
Butts also requested that the court require Compton to remove himself as hearing officer because of what Butts deemed a conflict of interest.
Attorneys representing Stimpson and Tims noted that the law governing school personnel hearings allows but does not require hearing officers to issue subpoenas. It also allows school boards to appoint as hearing officers anyone except the person who made the decision to terminate the employee.
Roberts ruled that granting Butts’ petition would be a “far-reaching action” that would go beyond the procedures established by state law for personnel hearings.
“Whether we agree or disagree, the law sets out procedures we are all required to follow,” he said.
Ellis’ hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Monday in the Hancock Leadership Center. The school board will review a transcript of the hearing and determine whether or not to uphold his dismissal.