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California high school basketball coach sacked after players threw tortillas at rival team

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) – A San Diego-area school district voted Tuesday night to fire the head basketball coach after tortillas were thrown at a predominantly Latino high school team.

The Coronado Unified School Board voted 5-0 in a closed-door session to release JD Laaperi from Coronado High School and also discussed but did not take action regarding student discipline, the San Diego Union reported -Tribune.

There had been a feud between coaching staff at both schools after the predominantly white Coronado beat visiting Orange Glen High School in Escondido 60-57 in overtime on Saturday in a divisional championship game.

Witnesses alleged that Laaperi shouted curses at an Orange Glen coach, saying: “Get your kids out and get the (curse) out of here,” the Union-Tribune said.

A video shared on social media then showed at least two students from Coronado throwing tortillas in the air at the other team.

Coronado Unified School District Superintendent Karl Mueller issued a public apology on Sunday calling the act “wrong.”

In a tweet on Saturday, Laaperi said a member of the community brought tortillas to the game and said the incident 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, ”he tweeted.

The two school districts, along with Coronado Police and the California Interscholastic Federation, are investigating the incident.

Wayne McKinney, captain of the Coronado basketball team, said players and coaches received hate messages and death threats following the incident, according to the Union-Tribune.

On Tuesday, he called the tortilla throw unsportsmanlike but not an act of fanaticism.

“It wasn’t based on race or class; it was just a great game between two teams, ”said McKinney. “I think a lot of people are making Saturday something it wasn’t.”

“Even though they weren’t meant to be racist, we cannot ignore that our guests, these kids who played hard for a championship, felt attacked because they were Hispanic,” said Whitney Antrim, counselor. school of Coronado, during the meeting.

In a letter to the community on Tuesday, Escondido Union High School District Superintendent Anne Staffieri said following its investigation, the district wanted to bring students from both teams together “to face each other, to confront each other. , discuss and strengthen through honest discussions and sincere apologies. “

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