TORTILLAS THROWN AT HIGH SCHOOL TEAM LEADS TO CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND MOVING CIF CHAMPIONSHIP

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By Briana Gomez

Photo: Screenshot via 10 News of rally outside Coronado High School at which activists from multi-racial communities called for action including moving the CIF championship

June 23, 2021 (Coronado) -- Two press conferences were held Tuesday after Coronado High School received backlash for racist remarks and actions against Latinx students from an opposing basketball team.

The incident happened Saturday at Coronado High School after their basketball team won the CIF Championship against Orange Glen High School, which has a predominately Hispanic team, reflective of its student population.

Tortillas were thrown at students, reports say, but other reports claim that Coronado Head Coach JD Laaperi also made racist remarks.

A press release from the San Diego Chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations said that an unnamed attendee heard Laaperi say, “Get your [explicit] loser team off my court.”

The comment was made to Orange Glen Head Coach Chris Featherly.

The Coronado Unified School District Governing Board voted unanimously Tuesday to fire basketball coach JD Laaperi, three days after fans threw tortillas at the opposing team following a championship game.

On Tuesday at 12 p.m. the North County Equity and Justice Coalition collaborated with the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego (RJCSD) to host an emergency press conference at Coronado High School.

The organizations demanded that Coronado High School implement consequences for the racist actions displayed by their staff and on their campus.

Local activist Yusef Miller was one of the leaders of this emergency conference.

Later on Tuesday at 5 p.m. the San Diego Chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference in front of the Escondido Unified High School District Office.

CAIR collaborated with the San Diego Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the North County Immigration Task Force (NCITF) along with BIPOC educators to demand policy changes and safety for students.

This coalition of CAIR and the ADC wrote a list of demands to be adhered to including the following.

  • A policy change by CUSD to rusticate a student immediately upon exhibiting racist behavior. 
  • The CIF to cease the championship. 
  • The Coronado police to investigate this as a hate crime. 
  • The inclusion of Critical Race Theory in Coronado School district. 
  • The inclusion and expansion of Ethnic Studies in Coronado school district.

Shane Harris, President of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, also announced Tuesday that he had been working with the Latino American Political Association (LAPA) and that he secured a neutral space for parties from both schools to talk in a roundtable setting.

His organization and LAPA were the only ones to suggest this co-operative type of event.

Their demands were cited from an email as follows.

The Orange Glen High School & Coronado High School Basketball teams and schools agreed to a restorative justice roundtable between the two basketball teams that is “youth focused” and “youth led.”  

The restorative justice roundtable and discussion should be led with the youth by a skilled mediator brought on by both the Escondido Unified School District and the Coronado Unified School District to lead the restorative roundtable.  

“As a former high school athlete, I understand the intensity and excitement that comes from a good game, but there is absolutely no place for racism on or off the field,” said Jordan Gascon, President of LAPA in a press release.

Harris has secured the San Diego County Office of Education as a neutral space for the teams to talk-it-out. Representatives from both schools have been agreeable to this solution.

More than 100 comments were submitted to Coronado school board about the incident as investigations are pending.