Ellis hearing enters possible final day

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

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TUPELO – Calvin Ellis’ attorney rested his client’s case on Monday afternoon, the ninth day of testimony in the personnel hearing of the former Tupelo High School choral director.
That hearing resumes today at 8:30 a.m. at the Hancock Leadership Center. It could prove to be the proceeding’s final day.
Attorney David Butts completed his case by calling Ellis to the witness stand. When the hearing resumes, Ellis will stand for cross examination from attorneys Jim Keith and Kelly Stimpson, who are representing the district.
Keith and Stimpson will also have an opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses for their case.
During Ellis’ testimony, Butts asked his client about each of the 23 charges that the district made against him in his Oct. 28 dismissal letter. Ellis said most of them were not true and that others resulted from him following procedures that had been set in place in the program before he got there.
Ellis also expressed frustration that district officials did not give him an opportunity to discuss the charges with them before his termination.
“I am hurt, outraged, disappointed, all of those things,” he said.
Asked why he charged the booster club twice for the same songs to be choreographed, he said sometimes work would need to be redone to allow for the best possible performance for his group. He said the same was true for arranging.
He also said no one complained to him about that while he was director.
“The booster club, as many times as we met, never once opened up their mouth to say why are we paying for choreography for this song,” Ellis said.
On the prank night events, Ellis said he told students not to purchase condoms and that he didn’t know they had done so until after the prank. That night, boys in the show choir messed with the cars of the group’s girls using condoms, bananas, car paint and Vaseline.
Ellis said he could not see the prank when it occurred.
Two parents also testified on Monday that they were not offended by that prank.
Amy Mercier said her son had her permission to be at Ellis’ house that night and that she does not object to him going to Walmart that night or participating in the prank. She said parents of seven of the eight students involved told her they had similar feelings.
Carrie Haadsma, whose daughter was there that night, said the students “were being goofy boys.”
Meanwhile, Jerry Jordan, former director of choral activities at the University of Mississippi, testified on Monday that Ellis was an exemplary student and that the charges didn’t fit his character.
“You could always count on Calvin,” he said.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

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