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Parents, Students Ask School Board to Reconsider Teacher's Transfer

Parents and students upset over the transfer of a popular Shivela P.E. teacher share their outrage during Thursday's board meeting.

It was standing room only at the Murrieta Valley Unified School District board meeting Thursday evening.

Parents and students, some decked out in “Team Tahti” T-Shirts and some holding signs--who showed up to show and speak their support of teacher Tim Tahti--poured out of the board room and into the hallway.

Some headed up to the podium in twos and threes, others alone, but all stood at the podium in front of the board and packed room to espouse similar words: Mr. Tahti is an integral part of the Murrieta middle school.

“He is Shivela,” said Alex Nelson, a 13-year-old Shivela Middle School student. “He’s the heart and soul of Shivela.”

The controversy began on Friday, when students first learned that longtime physical education teacher Tahti was leaving the school, apparently not voluntarily. On Monday, Tahti delivered the school announcements over the loud speaker as usual, but by later in the week he was no longer teaching at the school he'd been at for at least 20 years.

After hearing about his impending, alleged transfer, parents and students immediately rallied around the educator.

On Monday morning, locals dropping off their children, were greeted by students and parents holding signs sporting slogans such as “Keep Mr. Tahti,” and “Honk for Mr. T.”

Students said Tahti, who also heads the school’s running club and the Associated Student Body, was allegedly being transferred to another middle school within the district. District officials said they are barred by state law from releasing any information relating to personnel issues.

Theresa Ohler said although she’s not sure what happened because of the confidentiality issue, she assumes it’s some sort of administrative conflict since they wouldn’t transfer him to a different school if he was guilty of something egregious that merited termination.

And that’s not a good lesson for children, she said.

“If the adults can’t work it out how can we tell the kids to?” she said.

Ohler, whose son attends Shivela, fought back tears as she explained to the board how big of a difference Tahti had made in her family’s lives.

“It’s so sad,” said the mother of four. “I respect our board…and I understand the confidentiality I just ask…please make your final decision based on what’s best for the kids.”

Miles Labrador, 10, headed up to the podium, unfolded a piece of paper containing his speech and conveyed his grievances to the trustees.

“I am very sad that Mr. Tahti is leaving because I really liked Mr. Tahti,” said the Shivela sixth-grader. “Mr. Tahti has always been nice to me and my family and doesn’t deserve to go to a different school.”

Miles ended his speech with a polite “thank you and have a good evening.” 

For Victoria Cosio, 12, Mr. Tahti’s absence means an ASB class with no purpose. Victoria, whose eyes were red from crying, said they had a substitute in the class this week and they just sat around and chatted.

Tahti also made a difference in Bell Gallo’s life, but in another way. The 12-year-old said she hated P.E. before Tahti became her teacher.

“He inspired me to run and to do better and to actually try,” Bell said. “He’s like a dad to the whole school because he motivates you like a dad does.”

Trustees Kenneth Dickson and Margi Wray both said they “appreciated” all the support from the parents and students. But emphasized that they were not allowed to speak on the matter.

T.S. October 14, 2011 at 01:39 PM
While the support for Tahti is touching, I think that everyone must realise that the district officials would NOT move him unless absolutely necessary! They are doing what is best for the school. We will probably never know why because of confidentiality laws that are protecting Mr. Tahti but we must hope that the move was made to protect the best interest of all involved!
Lourie Kolar October 14, 2011 at 02:44 PM
“If the adults can’t work it out how can we tell the kids to?” she said Best comment right there.
Jenna October 14, 2011 at 03:26 PM
My daughter goes to Shivela and misses Mr. Tahti to the point her complaining is driving us all crazy! I would love to hear if the attendance by everyone at the meeting made a difference - which I hope it did. They made a decision, they can make another to bring him back where he belongs. We would all be much better for it and it would show the student body that grownups also make mistakes.
M. Lee Davis October 14, 2011 at 03:27 PM
I think you are in La-La land! Unless you know something that everyone else doesn't then don't assume that any governing organization is doing anything that's best for anyone. Unless anyone in a governing board can give specific and good reason then we have to assume that the decision was made not in anyone's best interest but that of the governing board. I'm sure that if he was being transferred with a promotion due to outstanding work performance and ethics that they would have no problem stating that. So now were only to assume two things. Inappropriate conduct with either another teacher or staff member or a student and I highly doubt that because I don't think they would just transfer him for that reason. There would be some sort of public record of a criminal investigation if there was. That only leaves a dispute between him and the district. So now the district has to answer this question. Is it worth all this, just to get their way? Is it worth upsetting student, teachers and other faculty members? Is causing all this in the "best interest" of the students? We all know the answer and so it all boils down to people who are in charge who couldn't give a rats ass about the people they are in charge of, as long as they get their way.
Galactic Cannibal October 14, 2011 at 04:33 PM
'The Land of the Free" my *ss. This is the "land of the free" so long as you don't upset our controllers. Remember that, Bureaucrats are not able to think outside their rule books. So suck it up people you will change nothing , and quit your illusion about "land of the Free".
Theresa Ohler October 14, 2011 at 04:37 PM
I want to thank Heather Bremner for coming out and her fair and honest reporting on last nights meeting!
Heather Bremner October 14, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Thanks Theresa! I'm happy I was able to cover it!
Alex Nelson October 15, 2011 at 02:43 AM
i want to say thanks to Heather Bremner for helping our voice be heard.

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