CORONADO, Calif. – After a series of impassioned speeches on Saturday’s regional championship game at Coronado High, trustees from the Coronado Unified School District Governing Board unanimously voted to fire the school’s head basketball coach.
In a special meeting Tuesday, the board voted 5-0 to remove JD Laaperi from his role and to take no disciplinary action against the school’s student-athletes. It comes after video surfaced showing fans throwing tortillas at opposing players from Orange Glen High School from the predominantly Latino Escondido Union High School District following the game, which Coronado High narrowly won.
The incident was widely condemned as racist and disrespectful, including by Laaperi in a tweet after Saturday’s game.
“The racial tones, the classism, that was displayed as well as the colorism that was displayed is evident to every Latino from the west coast to the east coast,” Coronado Unified trustee Esther Valdes-Clayton said.
Audrey Moore, a Coronado High student who saw the video of tortillas being thrown, said there’s been “so much pain” as a result of what happened.
“We did it,” Moore said. “We caused the pain and, Coronado, we have to take accountability.”
Coronado Unified School District’s superintendent called it “unsportsmanlike” conduct in an apology the day after the game. On Monday, the board condemned the action “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 FOX 5 said.
Mark Madore, a guard playing for Orange Glen, told FOX 5 on Tuesday that he’s never experienced anything like what happened during Saturday’s game.
“I felt like we were really disrespected,” Madore said.
Some Coronado parents and community members argued Tuesday that the board jumped the gun. They believe action should have been delayed until district and Coronado police investigations into the incident were complete.
“You caused a myriad of issues for our boys, including death threats,” one speaker said. “There is no possible way that you could have gathered all the information to make an educated decision.”
Wayne McKinney III, the captain of the Coronado High basketball team, acknowledged that none of the players were aware tortillas had been brought to the game and that “none of the players have any (racial) animosity towards the Orange Glen players.”
“The tortillas were brought by someone not associated by the team,” McKinney said. “However, the throwing of the tortillas after the game was unsportsmanlike and inexcusable and on that behalf of the team, we apologize for that action.”
Others who spoke called the behavior blatant racism and say it’s a problem that some don’t recognize it.
“Its not excusable,” one speaker said. “People need to be expelled, coaches need to be fired because without accountability then we’ll be back here again 10 times over and we’re tired of coming to meetings like this.”