School Board Votes to Fire Coronado Basketball Coach Following Postgame


What to Know

  • Coronado High School’s boys basketball team played against the boys from Escondido’s Orange Glen High School in the regional CIF championship on June 19, 2021
  • Coronado beat Orange Glen 60-57 in the tense, close game
  • After the game, those on the Coronado side allegedly threw tortillas at the athletes from Orange Glen — a predominantly Latino team — in an act that some viewed as being racist

The Coronado Unified School District Board has voted in favor of firing Coronado High’s head basketball coach following an emergency, closed-session school board meeting called in the wake of a postgame tortilla-throwing incident at a CIF championship game against Orange Glen of Escondido over the weekend.

The closed-session meeting followed a lengthy public session that included comments from players, parents and community members. Since the incident, which spread on social media throughout the county and nation, community members have been waiting to hear what disciplinary action might be taken.

“This was a racial incident no matter how it was cut,” community activist Yusef Miller told the board. “I don’t care who stands there and says otherwise. I don’t care if they are black, white or Latino. I don’t care what race they are. This was wrong and unjust. I don’t care where it comes from.”

The vote to fire Coronado head coach J.D. Laaperi was the first action — decided by a unanimous vote — and more could follow. As the public session closed, school board members said at least three more weeks would be needed to investigate the incident, which is also being investigated by the Coronado Police Department, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the Escondido Union High School District (home of Orange Glen HS).

Coronado team captain Wayne McKinney spoke to the board and apologized to the Orange Glen players and community on behalf of his team.

“Throwing those tortillas at a predominantly Latino school doesn’t look good but on my end, I do not believe we intended to make it about race. It was never about race,” McKinney told NBC 7 after the meeting.

He also said his former coach didn’t deserve to be fire for something he “had nothing to do with.”

Orange Glen assistant coach Brian Gallo disagreed.

“I think with the actions of their staff that night and how they handled the entire situation, I think firing was the collect call,” Gallo said.

Some parents accused the school board of rushing to judgement before having all of the facts.

“You had no right insinuating their guilt for something you had no idea about when you did it,” one said.

“Why was there a rush? I don’t understand. Why not ask for cooler heads in this situation? We need leaders with courage,” another added.

The board did not take any action against Coronado players, but it was part of the closed-door discussion, according to the meeting agenda. The person who allegedly brought the tortillas has not been named by the board. The Coronado Police Department said Monday investigators know who brought the tortillas, and they, too, have declined to identify that person.

The Escondido Union High School District held a meeting of its own Tuesday…



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