Ex-choral director's hearing begins this week

By Chris Kieffer | NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Arguments begin Monday on the hearing that will determine whether Calvin Ellis will be reinstated as Tupelo High School choral director.
Ellis, who also directed the Wave Connection show choir, was dismissed on Oct. 28. The Tupelo Public School District gave him a list of 26 violations that led to its decision. Ellis and his attorney, David Butts, say he is not guilty of any of them.
The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in the Hancock Leadership Center. Hearing officer John Compton will preside over the proceedings, which could last for several days, and will provide a transcript for the school board.
The board will determine whether or not to uphold his dismissal.
Ellis’ situation has drawn a considerable amount of interest and legal activity.
Some of that activity occurred on Friday when Circuit Court Judge James L. Roberts Jr. denied a petition filed by Butts.
The petition asked the judge to order Compton to issue subpoenas to three attorneys connected to the school district’s case – Jim Keith, Kelly Stimpson and Otis Tims. Butts wanted the three to testify at the hearing.
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.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com