By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO — Former Tupelo High School choral director Calvin Ellis will not be reinstated. The Tupelo school board today upheld in a 3-1 vote the administration’s October dismissal of Ellis, who had appealed the decision.
The board’s action in a special meeting followed 10 days of hearings in December, January and February in which Ellis and his attorney, David Butts, argued that while he made mistakes, they did not merit his firing.
Board member Rob Hudson was the lone vote for reinstating Ellis.
The board in a statement said although Ellis was a talented teacher committed to his students, it found he had “neglected his responsibility as a teacher to supervise the activities of the students” and had been “less than forthcoming with the district’s administration and with parents of the students.”
Ellis was present when the board announced its decision, but declined comment, saying it was too emotional a moment for him.
His attorney, David Butts, said they were “disappointed and dismayed” at the board’s decision. “The board has continued to lead this school district down the path of mediocrity, and today turned its back on a successful teacher whose show choirs have gained regional and even national recognition,” he said.
Butts said it was too early to say whether Ellis would appeal the decision further. The next appeal step, by state law, would be to chancery court.
Statement from David Butts
We are disapointed and dismayed at the decision of the Board. This is a sad day for Calvin Ellis, his wife and family and for many of the faculty and students of the Tupelo Public School District. Everyone knows that the evidence we brought forth at the hearing proved Mr. Ellis’ innocence of the charges. The Board has continued to lead this school district down the path of mediocrity, and today turned its back on a successful teacher whose show choirs have gained regional and even national recognition. This decision is not only a loss for Calvin Ellis but a loss for every student and parent in the district who love the performing arts. No decision has been made about an appeal at this time, but if we do appeal, we are confident the courts will reject such an unjust decision.”
Statement from TPSD Interim Superintendent David Meadows
TPSD recognizes how difficult this process has been for all parties involved and remains committed to serving its students and staff with the highest integrity.