The Coronado Unified School District in San Diego County voted 5-0 on Tuesday to fire Coronado High School basketball coach JD Laaperi after a game between Coronado and Orange Glen High School on Saturday ended with tortillas being thrown at the Orange Glen team, according to a report by CBS8.
Coronado won the game, 60-57, over Orange Glen at the California Interscholastic Federation Southern California Boys Basketball Division Regional 4-A Championship. After the game, unidentified people began throwing tortillas at the Orange Glen team from Escondido. The team is predominantly made up of Latino players.
It is unclear who initiated the tortilla throwing, with police only stating that tortillas were brought to the game by an adult male.
During an emergency school board meeting leading up to the vote, some calling for Laaperi's dismissal claimed that he had served as an instigator against Orange Glen. It's alleged that he started a verbal altercation after the game and called the opposing team's players "losers." One parent suspected that the incident was staged, while another claimed that Laaperi began using expletives towards Orange Glen.
"He cussed out our coach -- backing away like a coward, telling him to 'get the f out of here,'" said Andres Rivera, a parent of an Orange Glen player.
Prior to his firing, Laaperi had made a statement condemning the incident, attributing the tortilla-throwing to a different member of the community.
"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 said.
Not all parents were calling for Laaperi to be fired. Some Coronado parents said that the board should not take any action until all evidence was considered and an investigation was completed. One parent claimed that Coronado players have faced death threats, among other issues.
As the fate of Laaperi as Coronado's coach was deliberated, the school also has had to undertake efforts to mend its relationship with Orange Glen. On Monday, the school district's governing board sent a formal letter to Orange Glen, describing Saturday's incident as "egregious, demeaning and disrespectful."
"... swift action will be taken to address all those involved, and they will be held accountable. It is our hope to create opportunities to dialogue with the Orange Glen community in an attempt to repair," District Superintendent Karl Mueller said.