School board apologizes for tortillas thrown at California high school basketball team

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CORONADO, Calif. (KSWB) – A Southern California school board apologized after tortillas were thrown at student-athletes from a predominantly-Latino school district following a championship basketball game over the weekend.

Saturday’s game between Orange Glen High School and Coronado High was already over after Coronado’s 60-57 win when video showed tortillas hurled onto the court and at Orange Glen players.

On Monday, the Coronado Unified School District Governing Board apologized to the Orange Glen school community and said it will hold a meeting Tuesday to address the incident and consider more action against those involved.

“The Trustees of the Coronado Unified School District acknowledge these acts to be egregious, demeaning, and disrespectful. We fully condemn the racism, classism, and colorism which fueled the actions of the perpetrators,” a letter obtained by Nexstar’s KSWB said.

“We have taken swift action and will convene Tuesday, June 22, 2021, for an emergency special meeting of the board at which time we expect to hear the initial results of ongoing investigations and consider additional actions that may need to be taken.”

Coronado Unified School District’s superintendent called it “unsportsmanlike” conduct in an apology the day after the game.

“Members of our community were involved in an altercation and unsportsmanlike conduct which included throwing tortillas at our visitors from Orange Glen,” Superintendent Karl Mueller wrote. “Swift action will be taken to address all those involved, and they will be held accountable.”

Coronado’s head coach JD Laaperi said on Twitter that a community member brought the tortillas and distributed them, and that Coronado High School does not condone the behavior.

California Interscholastic Federation said Sunday that an investigation was underway. CIF said it prohibits “discrimination or any acts that are disrespectful or demeaning toward a member school, student-athlete, or school community.”

Escondido Union High School District, to which Orange Glen belongs, shared a message with its community saying they are in contact with CUSD about what happened.

“We understand they will be taking swift action to address all those involved,” the letter said. “There is no place for hate in EUHSD. We do not tolerate racism, cultural disrespect, or any other behaviors that demean others.”

“We need to make sure we’re doing all we can to create environments in our larger communities where all of our students can feel safe, they can feel respected and they can feel valued,” Escondido Unified High School District Superintendent Dr. Annie Staffieri said. “We don’t tolerate racism and we don’t tolerate cultural disrespect, nor do we tolerate any other degrading behaviors and what we are committed to is creating safe spaces.”

Coronado police responded Saturday to help clear people out of the gym after the game.

“We are extremely disturbed by the behavior of some of those attending last night’s basketball game. Their actions are completely unacceptable,” the department said in a statement.

The department is investigating. Police have identified the man who took the tortillas to the game and said he is not a student. Information about the man or any consequences following Saturday night have not been revealed.

In a statement issued Monday, California Latino Legislative Caucus leadership said “there must be consequences.”

“We call on CIF to take strong action to hold the responsible students and school accountable for these hateful, violating acts,” the statement said.

Social justice advocate Enrique Morones said he believes if this behavior is not punished, it is bound to happen again.

“Action needs to be taken, and I think the action should be that Coronado should forfeit that game,” Morones said. “These hate acts, they got to be called out. We cannot accept it. These are young people. They obviously have been influenced maybe by their parents or their friends, and we got to call it out.”

“If people find out exactly what happened, I believe that the majority of the community will be against these types of actions,” Morones said.

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