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CIF to rule on Coronado High tortilla-throwing incident next week

Coronado High School
Posted at 3:45 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 22:11:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) on Thursday said it will be issuing its ruling sometime next week on an incident in which supporters of Coronado High School's boys basketball team tossed uncooked tortillas at the visiting team from Orange Glen High, a team comprised of mostly Hispanic and Latino players.

As part of its review process, the CIF said the two schools were allowed the opportunity to conduct an internal investigation into the incident and then provide the CIF with the results.

"Upon receipt and review of the schools’ and/or school districts’ information, and further inquiry from this office if needed, the CIF will then determine what action is appropriate. The CIF is in the process of concluding our review, and unless circumstances dictate otherwise, we anticipate issuing the ruling of the CIF Executive Director during the upcoming week," the CIF said.

The incident happened shortly after Coronado High beat Orange Glen 60-57 at the CIF Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship. ABC 10News received a video showing spectators flinging tortillas at Orange Glen's side.

Viral videos and social media coverage of the tortilla tossing sparked outrage from various community leaders and the public. On Tuesday, the San Diego NAACP chapter called on the CIF to ban two Coronado High players and a coach who they say were involved in the incident, and recommended that either both teams be named co-champions or strip Coronado of its title.

In a statement from Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP, she said the Coronado school district has failed to fully support anti-racism policies and confront microaggressions towards students of color.

"Let's be honest: The distasteful act of tortilla-throwing at a basketball game uncovers deep social inequities that are fueled by racism," said Maxwell.

CIF's announcement Thursday comes two days after Coronado Unified School District trustees voted unanimously to remove the head basketball coach of Coronado High School. The coach, JD Laaperi, was seen in viral video exchanging words with the Orange Glen staff after their win.

"A vote of 5-0 was to release our head coach," district staff told ABC 10News.

Lizardo Reynoso, an assistant coach for Orange Glen, accused Laaperi of setting off the incident after making disrespectful comments towards Reynoso's team as his players were lining up for a traditional post-game handshake.

"The players on the other team 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," said Reynoso.

On Wednesday night, Luke Serna told this station that he was the person who brought the tortillas to the game claiming they were intended to be celebratory and not used to throw at the Orange Glen players.

"Yes, I handed out the tortillas myself before the game. I indicated that they were strictly for use if the team won. I never said anything about flinging them at the other team to either the bench players or the cheerleaders," Serna said via text messages.

He said he graduated from Coronado High in 1999 and went to UC Santa Barbara, where tortilla tossing is a tradition.

In a lengthier interview with The Coronado Times, Serna, who says he is half Mexican, added that Laaperi knew he brought the tortillas and the two knew each other at Santa Barbara.