Basketball coach fired after players threw tortillas at majority-Latino school

·2-min read

Three days after a racist tortilla-throwing incident involving several members of the Coronado High School basketball team in Coronado, California, the school board voted to dismiss Coronado basketball coach JD Laaperi on Tuesday night, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The school board meeting was held behind closed doors and no additional comments were given. The board discussed disciplining the students involved, but didn't take any action. 

Tortillas thrown after championship game

Coronado played Orange Glen High School, a majority-Latino school, in a championship basketball game on Saturday. It was a tightly contested game, and there were reportedly several "heated" moments both on the court and in the stands leading up to Coronado's 60-57 overtime win. 

Both teams' coaching staffs had an angry exchange of words once the game was over. According to witnesses who spoke to the Union-Tribune, Laaperi allegedly shouted at Orange Glen's coach, saying “That’s why you don’t talk [expletive]. Get your kids and get the [expletive] out of here.”

That's when at least two Coronado players started throwing tortillas at the Orange Glen team.

Investigations are ongoing

Laaperi tweeted on Sunday that a "community member" brought the tortillas to the game. 

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According to the Union-Tribune, the person who brought the tortillas has been identified by police and is being investigated. 

The police aren't the only ones conducting an investigation. The incident and the behavior of both Coronado and Orange Glen players are being investigated by the Coronado United School District, the Escondido Union High School District, and the California Interscholastic Federation. 

At the school board meeting on Tuesday night, basketball team captain Wayne McKinney said that he'd apologized to Orange Glen, but he only considered the incident to be "unsportsmanlike."

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

McKinney did not explain why he felt throwing tortillas at a majority-Latino school was not racist when numerous Latino groups have publicly said the opposite. According to the Union-Tribune, Gente Unida, the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, Latino American Political Association, Chicano Federation, La Raza Lawyers, North County Equity and Justice Coalition, NAACP San Diego, CAIR-San Diego and the League of United Latin American Citizens have all called the tortilla-throwing incident racist.

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