CUSD School Board Candidate Stephanie Anderson

Coronado School Board Candidate Question #7:

“The last two years before the Coronado Unified School Board have been uniquely tumultuous. Many, if not most, of those issues were ones where the School Board had minimal latitude for action. One issue that stands out as being completely within the Board’s purview, was the response to the tortilla-throwing incident of June 19, 2021. Defend the Board actions, or detail what your course of action would have been in their shoes.”

The actions that followed the June 19th CIF Southern California Regional Basketball Championship game in Coronado caused headlines around the country and painted our town as a racist, classist, and colorist community.

During and after that game, there was plenty of unsportsmanlike behavior, taunting, and cursing by both teams (Coronado and Orange Glen). An hour after the game, the Coronado Varsity Basketball Coach, JD Laaperi, publicly tweeted that the tortilla throwing was, “unacceptable and racist in nature”. Additionally, many, many videos of the event instantly went viral and were watched by the Coronado School Board members. Even though the Coronado Basketball coach publicly stated his belief that the actions were racist in nature and even though videos of the postgame events looked damming, the Coronado School Board’s public letter (approved by all five of the sitting school board members) stating that our students, coaches, and fans acted in a way that “was racist, classist and colorist” was a knee jerk reaction, made before all the facts were reviewed. It unfairly condemned our basketball players, coaches, fans, and community without taking the time to investigate all of the details of the situation and without a thorough ‘due diligence’.

From the videos of the event, it is clear that the Orange Glen’s athletes, coaches and fans viewed the tortilla throwing as a racist act. Superintendent Karl Mueller put out a statement apologizing for the “altercation and unsportsmanlike conduct which included throwing tortillas at our visitors from Orange Glen”. This was the right thing to do and was completely appropriate; we offended the Orange Glen team and fans, and when you offend someone, you apologize (whether you meant to offend them or not). Where the School Board members went very wrong was to base their decision only on the Coronado Basketball Coach’s opinion and on videos. Without any further investigation, they believed that they knew the intent in the hearts and minds of the Coronado players, coaches, and fans at that game, they assumed the very worst of the Coronado community at that game, and they published their incorrect assumptions as fact for the world to read.

On June 30th the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) issued sanctions against Coronado High School (CHS) citing, “discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors.” These extensive sanctions included stripping CHS’s boys’ basketball team of the 2021 Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship. Certainly, the Coronado School Board’s public letter stating that our team, coaches, and fans acted in a racist, classist and colorist manner must have been taken into consideration by the CIF Board and must have significantly influenced the severity of the sanctions issued.

It was not until August 19th that the School Board voted (3-2) to amend their statement about ‘Tortilla-Gate’ to simply support Superintendent Mueller’s initial apology letter. This was the right thing to do but it was too little too late, the damage had already been done. Coronado’s name was already tarnished and the sanctions were already in place. After all of their practice and hard work the entire season, and after an amazing game that our boys fought for and won at the buzzer, in overtime, they were still denied the honor of being recognized as the CIF Southern California Regional Basketball Champions that they were.

VOL. 112, NO. 43 - Oct. 26, 2022

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