Menifee Athletes, Parents Protest Firing of Paloma Valley Coach

Parents and athletes hold signs protesting the firing of Paloma Valley cross country coach Mike McGr...

Parents and athletes hold signs protesting the firing of Paloma Valley cross country coach Mike McGregor.
Dozens of athletes, parents and other supporters lined the streets in front of Menifee's Paloma Valley High School both before and after school Monday, protesting the firing of popular girls cross country coach Mike McGregor.

Wearing T-shirts that read "Team McGregor" and "We've Got Your Back," members of the girls and boys cross country teams and their parents held up signs and waved to passing drivers -- many of whom honked in support of their cause. McGregor, who has been a coach at the school for 13 years and a teacher there for nine, was fired last week following an incident at a meet at Temescal Canyon on Sept. 12.

Parents protesting the action said some adults witnessed a conversation between McGregor and Temescal Canyon officials concerning what McGregor said was an unsafe course for his runners. Parts of the course ran through a parking lot with moving vehicles. McGregor reportedly also complained about the confusing layout of the course and alleged that race officials directed some of his runners in the wrong direction.

Some time during the disagreement, McGregor used an obscenity (bull----) in expressing his frustration. McGregor, who didn't return phone calls on Monday, has admitted this but also has repeated his concern for the safety of his runners that day.

"Yes, I said a word I shouldn’t have said," McGregor told the Riverside Press Enterprise. "I’m sorry about that, but I was thinking about the safety of the kids. I’m responsible for these kids — I care deeply about them. I’m not gonna apologize for that."

Shirl Larios, whose daughter Brittney Ferguson is a senior runner on the team, said McGregor called his daughter last Tuesday to tell her had been fired and to let the other runners know. He has not been allowed any contact with the athletes in practices or meets since then. He remains at the school as a science teacher, however.

Hannah Doty, a freshman on the team, is in McGregor's biology class. She says it has been difficult seeing him there and no longer having him as her coach.

Elizabeth Valadez (left) and Shirl Larios wear T-shirts
in support of Coach Mike McGregor.

"The first day after, he was really quiet," Doty said. "He could hardly talk; he kept getting choked up. I try not to bring it up, but I have told him, 'Don't worry, we'll get you back.' "

Perris Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Greenberg and Paloma Valley Principal Brian Morris both referred a reporter to Leslie Ventuleth, Chief Human Resources Officer.

Ventuleth said she cannot comment because the issue is a personnel matter.

Another parent of an athlete, Elizabeth Valadez, said both Greenberg and Morris returned her phone calls but that neither would address the situation directly. Larios said Morris indicated school officials knew of prior misconduct regarding McGregor but said he couldn't discuss specifics. McGregor has denied this in previous interviews.

"Coach McGregor assured us he has nothing to hide; he's had no reprimands or things they could pull out to make him look bad," Larios said. "But the principal told all of us, 'If you knew what we know, you'd agree with our decision.' What could he have done if they're still allowing him to be a teacher? Brian Morris has encouraged the parents to back off (the protest)."

Larios and others said they will continue to protest outside the school, however, and will attend the Oct. 17 meeting of the district Board of Trustees. Ventuleth said members of the public are allowed to comment on non-agenda items at board meetings. In order to have an item placed on the agenda, she said, they would have to go through the superintendent's secretary.

Larios said she has made that request and was denied.

Hannah Doty's mother, Shannon, said the punishment and lack of response from school and district officials is unfair. Echoing the sentiments of many other parents and athletes, she said McGregor has been one of the most positive influences in her daughter's time at the school.

"She wouldn't have gotten this far if Coach McGregor hadn't inspired her," Shannon Doty said. "This has really hit her hard. She doesn't know how she will go another three years on the team without him as her coach.

"Coach is a very honest man. He takes care of his kids as though they were his own. I know I can drop off my daughter at 5 in the morning and know someone is taking care of her. We trust this man."

Among the protesters Monday was Paul Clay, a teacher at Heritage High School and president of the Perris Secondary Educators Association.

"This is a travesty," he said. "I think the punishment was excessive. The district has no progressive discipline policy. My experience has been that they are totally inconsistent with these things.

"My feeling all along is that all this has obscured the real issue -- how horribly handled that cross country meet was."

Supporters of Mike McGregor lined both sides of the street outside Paloma Valley High.


Paloma Valley High School cross country 3511487119927982696

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  1. this is AWESOME!!! thanks Doug!!

  2. Perris school district needs to do their homework!!

  3. Never cared for him as a teacher. Protest is a waste of time.

    1. sorry you feel that way, prehaps if you had him as a coach for your child you'd think otherwise

  4. Bring McGregor Back!
    we need our inspiration and motivation back.

  5. Have to say that he's a great teacher mentor and coach. All of my kids have had him and they've enjoyed his class. People who write negative things about him probably didn't pay attention to him in class. Plus the protest is about the unfair way he was fired.

  6. You have got to be kidding! It's not like those high schoolers haven't ever heard that word...worse is said on TV these days and more so out of most of their own mouths. But the real issue here is that this coach was fighting for these kids to run a safe course and that doesn't even matter. What is wrong with the people making these ingnorant decisions? Common sense isn't so common anymore. His punishment was way overboard. And just for the record, I don't have any ties to PVHS...I'm just a member of the community that is simply disgusted by this situation.

    1. Get more disgusted and show up at the school board meetings. Just look at their website for their district and you will know when to show up. They get rid of good teachers all the time at this district. This has been an on going problem since Jonathan Greenberg, the superintendent came aboard 5 years or so ago.

  7. The School Board and the principal are clearly ABOVE the Law... Not!! Fire the principal and school board for "allowing" their students to run an unsafe cross country course!

    1. You are so right. Go to the district meetings and speak up or nothing will change. They do believe they are above the Law and have been getting away with it for years.

  8. The reality is there is much much more to this story that will probably not be released due to confidentiality. This was just the final straw.

  9. My husband has been treated badly for 5 years and they continue to harass him because he looks out for his students. The parents need to rise up and take this district to task. They don't care about good teachers. I agree fire the superintendent and look into the district and how they treat people. Parents need to get involved and help get this district to be accountable to someone other them themselves. They are corrupt. Keep the protest going!!

  10. He let's his girls run at 6:30 in the morning down the middle of the street in dark clothes, where is his concern for their safety then? There are sidewalks where they run, but they challenge the cars for the street.

    1. I have seen students running alongside Murietta and they have ALWAYS been on the sidewalk.



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