David Butts dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning he could bring it again. It was dropped shortly before being heard by Judge Jacqueline Mask in Lee County Chancery Court.
Ellis was fired by the district as Tupelo High School’s Choral Director on Oct. 28 and given a list of 26 charges, which Ellis and Butts deny. Ellis has requested an appeal hearing, which will begin on Nov. 30.
In a statement, Butts said that he dismissed the lawsuit for two reasons. For one, he said that it could delay the hearing beyond Nov. 30. Butts said that it is important to Ellis that the hearing be held as soon as possible so that he can get back to the choral program and Wave Connection show choir more quickly.
Also, Butts said that if he got the injunction he sought, Ellis would have to post a cash bond. Butts said “Ellis does not have the money to post such a bond and was not, as of today, able to raise the money to do so.”
The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, asked the court to give Butts access to documents and information he deemed necessary to Ellis’ defense. The statue governing personnel hearings does not require school districts to release that information although they can choose to do so.
The suit also asked for subpoena power to investigate possible witness tampering and asked for the appointed hearing officer to be dismissed because of what Butts believes to be a conflict of interest.
The school board has appointed Meridian attorney John Compton to be the hearing officer.
For more on this story, see Saturday’s NEMS Daily Journal.