Board of Trustees upholds termination of Kelton Thompson

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

During Tuesday’s Picayune School District Board of Trustees meeting, the Board approved a motion to accept minutes from last week’s special call meeting, officially upholding the superintendent’s decision to fire the high school head basketball coach back in February.

That decision was made as a result of a two day public hearing Thompson requested after he was fired due for being unable to provide a acceptable sample during a random drug test on Feb. 7, of this year. He was chosen to take the test due to his status as a bus driver for the District.

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During the two days of testimony during the hearing, which took place on March 7, and April 27, Thompson alleged that the drug test administered by DCS and Associates LLC, which is owned by a Pearl River County School District Board of Trustees member Rodney Dyess, was conducted improperly.

Thompson also said that he believed he should not have been tested on that date because he was not given a pre-employment drug screen, which would have meant he should not have been on the list for random testing.

School District legal counsel countered that any employee who holds a Commercial Driver’s License is added to the list for random testing.

The reason Thompson failed the test was because the sample he was able to give after several attempts was disqualified because it was too cold, he flushed the toilet after filling the cup even though he was advised not to and he washed his hands immediately after providing the sample even though he was advised not to.

For those reasons, Superintendent Dean Shaw made the decision to terminate Thompson’s employment with the District toward the end of the regular basketball season, according to his statements during the hearing.

During the July 3, special call meeting the Board went into executive session to make a decision on the findings of the hearing. A motion was made by Board member Edward Stubbs and seconded by Board member Jake Smith to approve “the attached order to support the termination of Kelton Thompson,” the minutes state. Stubbs, Smith and Board members Frank Ford and David Mooneyhan all voted for supporting the termination, with Board member Josh Robertson voting against.

When asked about the outcome, Thompson issued the following written statement.

“I was disappointed in the outcome. Obviously I felt strongly about my position in the events that unfolded that day or I wouldn’t have put myself through a five-month appeal process. Mr. Shaw and his constituents had their agenda and a majority of the School Board choose to support it. That’s the way it is around here,” Thompson said in the statement.

When asked about his plans for the future, he said, “The good Lord has always put me where I’ve needed to be. I’ve been very blessed from that aspect and where ever I go from here is where I’m supposed to be. I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish here at Picayune in a short time. From greatly improved player academics, behavior and their personal accountability. And with those things always comes success on the court, which we had. I feel we left the program in much better shape than we found it. I will miss the kids dearly though. That’s the sad part for me. It doesn’t take long to get attached to the kids and their family when you run a program the way we do. As far as what’s next, I’m not sure. I have a lot of options. I love kids and love coaching. Maybe I’ll start a new career as a football coach.”

Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said a replacement has not been hired yet, but he expects one to be presented to the Board during the meeting set for August 14 at 5:30 p.m.