|Supporters of fired cross country coach Mike McGregor demonstrated in front of Paloma Valley High School again Monday.|
For the sixth consecutive school day, protestors held up signs in support of McGregor, who was fired as girls cross country coach following an incident in a meet at Temescal Canyon High on Sept. 12. The majority of drivers honked their support as they passed by the line of demonstrators while dropping off students at school.
Parents say McGregor was fired without notice about two weeks ago, just days after he was involved in a disagreement with Temescal Canyon officials over the layout and administration of a cross country course for a league meet. McGregor has admitted using an obscenity during his complaint about the course conditions. A spokesperson for the protestors said administrators have told them there is more to the story but will not discuss details.
"(Paloma Valley principal) Brian Morris keeps telling us there's no way there will be any change to this decision," said Shirl Larios, a parent of one of the runners. "He keeps encouraging us to stop the protests. On the other hand, we've had a great response from teachers who tell us to keep it going."
McGregor could not be reached for comment on Monday. Larios said he told parents he is scheduled to meet with Morris to discuss the situation on Tuesday.
All calls to school and district officials are referred to Lesie Ventuleth, chief human resources officer for the Perris Union High School District. Ventuleth said Monday she could not comment on whether such a meeting was scheduled.
Ventuleth would not comment directly on parents' claims that Morris has asked them to stop the protests. She did say, however, that district officials have no complaint with a peaceful demonstration on a public street outside school property.
"From what I understand, they're not disrupting the instructional program and the students are getting to class on time," Ventuleth said. "That is not an issue for us."
Larios said she and other parents still plan to appear at the PUHSD board meeting on Oct. 16 to protest the decision. She acknowledged that administrators have told the parents they may speak during the public comments portion of the meeting, but she challenges what she says has been administration's refusal to put the issue on the agenda.
An email Larios sent to administrators Oct. 1 included the following:
"I spoke last week with Superintendent (Jonathan) Greenberg and President (Eric) Kroneicke, asking to be placed on the agenda for the October board meeting as to our concerns as to the policy and procedures as to the hiring and firing of teachers, staff and coaches," Larios wrote. "I was told NO by both. I asked both why not. Greenberg said, 'Because this is a personal matter and we cannot speak on the matter.'
"I told Greenberg that I was already aware of this but that our/my request was not regarding the personal matter of Coach McGregor but rather to express and discuss the 'hiring and firing policies and procedures.' Again, Greenberg told me no."
In the email, Larios refers to two sections of the Education Code she says gives citizens the right to have such items placed on the agenda of the next school board meeting. Ventuleth said such an item could be placed on the agenda for a closed session of the meeting only, but that members of the public would be allowed to comment before the closed session.
"My understanding is that the superintendent and the board president have received this request and that it has been determined the item will be placed on the agenda for closed session," Ventuleth said.
McGregor remains a teacher at Paloma Valley.