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Coronado High School head basketball coach fired following 'racist' tortilla throwing at game vs. Orange Glen

Coronado Unified School District board voted 5 - 0 Tuesday night to fire Coronado High School's head basketball coach JD Laaperi following the incident Saturday

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Coronado Unified School District board voted 5 - 0 Tuesday night to fire Coronado High School's head basketball coach JD Laaperi following a controversial incident Saturday night following a game versus Orange Glen High School. 

Saturday's game between Coronado and Escondido's Orange Glen High School reportedly ended with unidentified people throwing tortillas at the Orange Glen team, which is predominantly Latino.

It was unclear who initiated the tortilla throwing. The Coronado Police Department hasn't publicly identified a suspect but said that an adult male brought the tortillas to the game.

At an emergency school board meeting leading up to the vote, students, parents and community members spoke out. 

"We don't need anybody to explain anything else to us," said board trustee Esther Valdez Clayton. "We know what we saw and that it hurt." 

"These weren't just two tortillas..  these were bombs of racism," added community activist Enrique Morones, founder of Gente Unida. 

Coronado's team captain Wayne McKinney said that none of the players had brought the tortillas, nor was there animosity of any kind toward the Orange Glen players.

"However, throwing the tortillas after the game was unsportsmanlike, and on behalf of the team we apologize for that act," McKinney said. 

One father of an Orange Glen player said he believed Coronado's coach bore much of the responsibility of what transpired.

"He created the chaos that led to this incident," he said. "I am not convinced that it wasn't staged." 

Still, some Coronado parents said that the board should not take any action until all evidence was considered, and the investigation complete.

"You jumped the gun," one parent charged. "You caused a myriad of issues for our boys, including death threats."

Prior to his firing, Laaperi said the incident was being addressed.

"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 tweeted.

Coronado won the game 60-57 at the California Interscholastic Federation Southern California Boys Basketball Division Regional 4-A Championship.

The Coronado Unified School District Governing Board on Monday sent a letter to the Orange Glen community describing the behavior as "egregious, demeaning and disrespectful."

District Superintendent Karl Mueller said "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."

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, community activists and parents gathered outside Coronado High School for a rally. Some called for Coronado's head coach JD Laaperi to be fired, saying he started a verbal altercation after the game, calling Orange Glen players "losers."

Andres Rivera's son plays on the Orange Glen team.

"He cussed out our coach---backing away like a coward, telling him to 'get the f out of here,'" he said.

Regarding the incident, Lizardo Reynoso, an assistant coach for Orange Glen, told reporters that Coronado players and some fans "started throwing tortillas on our whole team, which, as you can see, we're predominately Hispanic and Latino, so it like, took us pretty hard."

At an Escondido Union High School District meeting Tuesday night Tina Pope spoke about the incident and its larger implications. 

"Racism is real and is everywhere," she said. "This has just been very public and sad for our kids but I also know the strength of Orange Glen and whoever said 'you messed with the wrong school' you got that right."  

The district's Superintendent Anne Staffieri said in a letter that the district board would discuss a resolution at the meeting "to denounce racism, racial discrimination, and the district's support for equity, safety and well-being of all students." The district will also meet Thursday to approve the resolution it was decided at Tuesday's meeting.

"We do not tolerate behavior that seeks to marginalize, diminish or devalue a person for any reason, including race, religion or gender identity," Staffieri wrote. "We must all work together, staff, students, parents and families, to look head-on at divisive behavior, call it out, and work to eliminate it."

Staffieri said the district "is investigating the situation to gather all the facts and understand the sequence of events. After we have the facts and the full picture, it will be appropriate for the students to face one another, to confront, discuss and grow stronger through honest discussions and sincere apologies, and I am confident that both school districts will work to make this happen."

Also Tuesday, the San Diego NAACP chapter condemned supporters and players on the Coronado High School basketball team for the alleged racist incident after the CIF championship game over the weekend.

Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP, said those who threw tortillas committed "racist actions that do not represent San Diego nor the America we want all people to love, value and appreciate.

"Let's be honest: The distasteful act of tortilla-throwing at a basketball game uncovers deep social inequities that are fueled by racism," Maxwell said in a news release. "From marginalizing and dehumanizing groups of 'others' based on income and inequality. We are extremely concerned that the coaches on both teams modeled inappropriate behavior and specifically that Coronado High School parents and two team players threw tortillas at Orange Glen players," Maxwell said.

The NAACP wants the CIF to either rule that Coronado share the CIF title with Orange Glen, or strip the Coronado team of its regional title altogether. The group is also recommending that two players who allegedly threw tortillas be kicked off the team, and that Laaperi be banned from coaching high school sports for at least one year.

Other recommendations include sensitivity training -- conducted by the NAACP San Diego Branch and its partners -- and banning the parent or parents who brought the tortillas from all games for all sports.

Several members of the state Legislature's Latino Caucus also condemned the incident.

"This goes beyond a teaching moment -- it's a glaring example of racism from students who are old enough to know better," said Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

"And it's yet another reminder of how far we still have to go to root out hate in our schools and our athletics, and of why we need a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum mandated in our high schools," the three lawmakers said. "There must be consequences. We call on CIF to take strong action to hold the responsible students and school accountable for these hateful, violating acts."

There are three separate ongoing investigations into this incident, by the Coronado school system, the Coronado Police and  CIF.  It could take anywhere from one to  three weeks to wrap up the district's investigation.

WATCH: Community outraged after Coronado High students throw tortillas at Orange Glen athletes after basket

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