TUPELO • Less than four months after being arrested for drunk driving during school hours, a former Tupelo school administrator has resigned and pleaded to the misdemeanor charge.
According to court records, Paul Moton entered a plea of no contest, or "nolo contendre," to the driving under the influence charge on Friday morning. While a no contest plea has the immediate effects of a guilty plea, it allows Moton to accept the DUI conviction without the factual admission of guilt.
The case will now be appealed to Lee County Court. Moton is represented by Mark Nichols, a Tupelo-based attorney who refers to himself in advertising as "Mr. DUI Tupelo."
Tupelo Public School District communications director Gregg Ellis said Moton submitted his resignation in writing last month. The school board accepted it at their Nov. 9 meeting.
The recent developments are in sharp contrast to Moton's once promising career in education. He was named the TPSD Administrator of the Year twice. He worked at the school district's central office as Director of Educational Enhancement and Innovative Design.
But things came crumbling down in mid-August when he was arrested for drunk driving during school hours.
According to the Tupelo Police Department report, Moton was driving carelessly along West Jackson Street on Monday, Aug. 16, around 11 a.m. The reports said Moton had keys to Milam Elementary School on him when he was pulled over in the parking lot of West Jackson Street Baptist Church.
The reporting officer said they "immediately smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage" on his breath and that Moton "could barely stand and used the bed of the truck to maintain his balance." The driver admitted he was impaired and said he was "going to lose his job."
There was an almost empty 12-ounce container of Comfort and Mercy hand sanitizer and a partially empty bottle of Burnett's vodka in the vehicle. Moton told the officer he had been drinking the hand sanitizer.
Fearing the hand sanitizer contained methanol, which is poisonous, police called an ambulance to carry Moton to the North Mississippi Medical Center for observation.
Police followed the ambulance to the hospital and issued Moton a citation for driving under the influence. That is standard practice dealing with impaired drivers who are taken to the hospital.
Following the arrest, Moton was put on leave, according to district policy, school superintendent Rob Picou said in August.
Moton spent 23 years as an educator, two decades of them with Tupelo Schools. He served as Milam Elementary School principal for seven years, where he was named the district's top administrator for the 2014-15 and 2019-20 school years. He was promoted to the central office position in April 2021.