Kelton Thompson loses appeal with Picayune School Board

July 6, 2018

Kelton Thompson has confirmed to WRJW News that he received a document stating that his appeal to the Picayune School Board for re-instatement as the Head Coach for the boys high school basketball team was denied.

  

Thompson was removed from the position due to events surrounding a February 7, 2018, random drug test for school employees with a CDL license.

 

Kelton Thompson (below) before Tuesday's meeting

 During Tuesday’s (July 3) specially called meeting of the Picayune School Board of Trustees, both Thompson and attorney Elizabeth Maron  (Adams and Reese LLP) who worked for the district during the hearing, each were given ten minutes for final statements to the board.  After the statements, the board went into executive session for approximately 90 minutes.

 

During his address to the board of trustees, Thompson stated, “I am extremely regretful for the turmoil that this situation has caused.  I am no saint.  I have never pretended to be.  I have made mistakes in the past, and I have paid for them dearly.  But I made the necessary changes in my life to make sure those mistakes would never happen again, and they didn’t.  I’m not sure what I could have done to avoid the events on February 7th.”

 

Thompson said that up until the morning of February 7th,  he had never taken a drug test for the Picayune School district in any capacity and had never been educated or trained on the proper procedures and protocols.   Thompson added that all of the central office staff  (Peterson, Shaw, Esslinger, Harrell), who testified during the hearing, all said during their testimony that they did in fact not know the drug testing procedures and protocols, the very same ones that he said he was terminated for not knowing and following. 

 

He also said that DCS, the testing company, made mistakes.

Thompson added, " Mr. Dyess testified to not being DOT certified to give CDL drug  tests on that day.  He also Testified that his company that was employed by the district was not in good standing with the state Attorney Generals office and subsequently should not have been operating that day.  Ms. Walther testified this was the very first DOT random test she had ever conducted after just receiving her training a little more than a month before the test.  Both of the representatives made testimony about their actions that is in violation of the DOT procedures and protocols.  A DOT expert testified to the mistakes made by them drug testing company.  There were mistakes across the board, during the test, and before."

 

Thompson also pointed out that he was allowed to drive a school bus full of children for two years, close to 100 trips and had never been drug tested by the Picayune School District.  He said that this was in direct violation of DOT Policies and Procedures.

 

Thompson said that he took two drug tests on his own the next day after he was unable to provide a sample acceptable to the testers (DCS) and both test did show any drugs in his system.

 

In Maron’s final statement to the board, she stated, “ First of all,  the Picayune School District is not responsible for knowing how to administer a drug test.  They hire a vendor to do that and in this case that vendor was the testing company run by Mr. (Rodney) Dyess (DCS & Associates) assisted by Ms. (Lia) Walther.”

 

Maron told the board of trustees that Walther was a certified DOT collector, had completed all of the requirements, and had recently been certified to administer the tests and that Mr. Dyess was here as in regards to a client relations advisor and assist as a collector.

 

Maron said that Thompson did not provide a valid sample due to the specimen he provided was determined by Dyess and Walter to be out of temperature range.  

 

Maron also said that in regards to Thompson’s claim of taking the two drug tests the day after he was unable to provide a specimen, was irrelevant because even one of his own expert witnesses stated that someone could flush their system in 24 hours by drinking lots of water.

 

No information was shared with the media or public after the executive session adjourned.   Thompson confirmed his attorney received an email detailing the board’s decision to enforce his termination and deny his appeal.

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