David Butts said in a statement that he did so because he did not want to possibly delay Ellis’ appeal hearing beyond its scheduled Nov. 30 start date.
Butts withdrew the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning he could bring it again. He had not yet filed a notice of withdrawal with the court on Friday afternoon, but that is a formality.
Ellis was fired from his job as Tupelo High School’s choral director on Oct. 28 and given a list of 26 charges, which Ellis denies. Ellis has requested an appeal hearing, which will begin on Nov. 30.
The lawsuit, filed in Lee County Chancery Court on Wednesday, asked the court to give Butts access to documents and information he deemed necessary to Ellis’ defense at the hearing. The law 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.
In his statement on Friday, Butts said he withdrew the suit for two reasons. For one, he said if it was successful, he thought the administration would appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, delaying the hearing. Butts said it is important to Ellis that the hearing be held as soon as possible so he can get back to the choral program and Wave Connection show choir.
Also, Butts said if he got the injunction he sought, Ellis would have to post a cash bond. Butts said, “Mr. 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.”
Butts announced the withdrawal at the courthouse before any arguments were heard by Judge Jacqueline Estes Mask.
David Butts Statement
"In this case I asked the Court to require the Administration to give me information necessary to Mr. Ellis' defense. We asked the Court to remove Mr. Compton as the hearing officer because of what we believe are potential conflicts of interest. Finally, I asked for supoena power to investigate possible witness tampering.
The Administration refused, and continues to refuse, to provide me the information I asked for.
I dismissed our case today for two reasons:
First, if the Court gave us what we had asked for the Administration would appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. That would delay Mr. Ellis's hearing far beyond November 30. He does not want his hearing delay. He wants to get back to work as soon as possible and help his kids have a successful choral and show choir season.
Secondly, if we got the injunction, court rules require that Mr. Ellis post a cash bond. Mr. 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.
So, we will go to his hearing on November 30 as prepared as we can be to defend the charges against him."