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High school stripped of basketball championship after tortillas were thrown at Latino opponents

Coach fired after tortilla-throwing incident
High school basketball coach fired after tortilla-throwing incident many saw as racist 00:49

A California high school basketball team has been stripped of its championship title after tortillas were thrown at the opposing team of mostly Latino players, officials said Wednesday.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs the state's high school sports, issued several sanctions against Coronado High School, including vacating the championship title, a ban on hosting postseason games, probation until 2024, and mandatory racial sensitivity and sportsmanship training for the entire school's athletic department, including student-athletes. 

"While consequences are warranted for such an egregious action as throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team and the sanctions below are being levied on the athletic program at Coronado High School, we must all be aware that behavior does not normally change with sanctions alone. The path towards real change comes with the development of empathy for those who are on the receiving end of this type of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior,"the organization said in a news release.

The organization also encouraged teams from both schools to complete community-based service projects based on restorative justice.

On June 19, Coronado High School defeated Orange Glen High School 60-57 in overtime, winning the 2021 Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship. Then, coaches engaged in a tense exchange and students began throwing tortillas toward the athletes from Orange Glen.

Coronado's Unified school board voted unanimously to fire basketball coach, JD Laaperi, on June 24 for the incident but did not hold any other students accountable, according to CBS Los Angeles.

In a statement, the coach called the incident racist and said he wasn't aware of any coordinated effort to throw the tortillas.

"Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature," Laaperi said the night of the game. "I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action."

The Escondido Union High School District, which oversees Orange Glen High School, passed a resolution on June 24, which denounces racism and pledging its support to the safety of all students. 

"We will not tolerate racist treatment of any members of our community, and we will speak out against racism and discriminatory practices in our society," the resolution read. "EUHSD will confront the biases in our own school district and actively engage in the challenging work of dismantling the problematic practices that limit opportunities for our students."

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