California HS basketball coach fired after tortillas thrown at opposing team


A San Diego-area school district voted Tuesday night to fire the head basketball coach of Coronado High School following an apparent racist incident over the weekend in which tortillas were thrown onto the court, according to reports. 

The Coronado Unified School Board voted unanimously in a closed session to fire coach JD Laaperi. The board also discussed student disciple but did not take action, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The incident occurred after a championship game between Orange Glen High School and Coronado on Saturday – won by Coronado 60-57 in overtime. Witnesses apparently said Laaperi cursed at an Orange Glen coach after the game, saying “That’s why you don’t talk (expletive). Get your kids and get the (expletive) out of here,” the paper reported

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Soon after, at least two Coronado players flung tortillas toward the Orange Glen team, according to videos posted on social media. 

Orange Glen High School is a predominantly Latin American school located in Escondido, about 30 miles northeast of San Diego. 

Several community groups had called for punishment this week. The Coronado Unified School District, Escondido Union High School District, Coronado police, and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) are also conducting investigations of the incident, according to reports. 

Police said they identified a man who had tortillas at the game and he was not a student, according to FOX 5 San Diego.

On Monday, Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP, said those who threw tortillas committed “racist actions that do not represent San Diego nor the America we want all people to love value, and appreciate.”

Coronado High School

Coronado High School
(Google Maps)

Prior to his firing, Laaperi said the school was already taking “appropriate action” into the incident, which he called “unacceptable and racist in nature.”

“Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature. I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action,” Laaperi wrote on Twitter. 

District Superintendent Karl Mueller added that “swift action will be taken to address all those involved, and they will be held accountable,” FOX 5 reported.

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During a press conference Tuesday, several community members had called for the firing of Laaperi – who they accused of stoking the tension.

Some believed that an apology from Coronado was not good enough.

“We don’t want prayers and, ‘Oh, we’re sorry.’ We want action,” said Enrique Morones, founder of the Gente Unida organization, a California-based non-profit, according to the Union-Tribune.

Others argued the tortilla throwing was not meant to be racist. Candie Couts, a self-described Coronado alumna, took aim at Mueller for assuming members of the Coronado team were guilty of the incident. 

“They didn’t think that it could be perceived as a racial issue,” Couts said. “Our team consists of all kinds of races as well as Orange Glen. You had no right insinuating their guilt for something you had no idea about.”

Wayne McKinney, captain of the Coronado basketball team, said players and coaches received hate messages and death threats over the incident, according to the paper. 

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“It was not based on race or class; it was simply a great game between two teams,” McKinney said. “I think many people are making Saturday out to be something it was not.”

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and the Associated Press contributed to this report





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