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Coronado Unified School District board approves apology over tortilla-throwing incident

Many community members disagreed with letter's language
Posted at 9:31 AM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 12:31:34-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) -- The Coronado Unified School District school board approved what it considers a formal apology over the tortilla-throwing incident that occurred following a high school basketball game earlier this summer.

The school board meeting that began Thursday afternoon lasted into midnight Friday as dozens of community members spoke during the public comment period.

Many of the comments were on the controversial incident that took place June 19 following a championship basketball game between Escondido’s Orange Glen High School and Coronado High School.

In response to what was perceived as a racist act, the district’s board revealed what they called a formal apology letter to Orange Glen High School during the Thursday meeting.

However, after midnight, the board decided that they would not send out the initial version of the written apology. Instead, a revised version of the letter would be sent to the Orange Glen High School community.

The apology written by the board before action was taken read:

“On June 19, 2021, following a highly contested championship basketball game, video shows members of the Coronado community hurled tortillas at students from Orange Glen High School, a predominantly Latino school district. The Trustees of the Coronado Unified School District acknowledge these acts to be egregious, demeaning, and disrespectful. We fully condemn the racism, classism, and colorism which fueled the actions of the perpetrators and fully support the statement by Superintendent Mueller released earlier this morning. On behalf of the CUSD School Board, we extend a full and formal apology to the Orange Glen High School athletes, known as the Patriots, as well as their peers, parents, teachers, and staff who were present during last night’s altercation. We have taken swift action and will convene on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, for an emergency special meeting of the board at which time we expect to hear the initial results of ongoing investigations and consider additional actions that may be need to be taken.”

The first version of the draft letter was met with anger and disappointment by many community members during the public comment period. Many parents were enraged by the language written in the apology, and they asked for it to be changed.

One parent questioned the way the incident was portrayed by the board, saying, "What? Racism? Me? My tribe? Classism? Colorism? You [the board] are supposed to be truth seekers and advocates in the community, you failed miserably!"

"This shows a lack of sound judgment and an imprudent willingness to scapegoat our families and our students," another parent said.

One parent said, "If it was your child, would you want them to live with that incorrect and tarnished reputation?"

Other parents believed that with the board drafting the apology, they attacked their own basketball team and accused a community of being racist and discriminatory.

"This seems like a politically diverse group of people who have all come to the same conclusion -- there was no racist intent," stated one father regarding the claims that the act of tortilla throwing was racially motivated. "Why are you so insistent on calling our kids racist, classist, colorist, and perpetrators?"

A revised version of the apology letter, after the 3-2 board vote, read:

“On behalf of the CUSD School Board, we extend a full and formal apology to the Orange Glen High School athletes, known as the Patriots, as well as their peers, parents, teachers, and staff. The CUSD governing board supports the statement by Superintendent Mueller.”

Coronado Unified School District Superintendent Karl Mueller said there will be a draft apology letter presented to the Coronado community members who were upset at the board's apology to Orange Glen High at the Sept. 9 board meeting.

After Coronado High’s win on June 19, tortillas were thrown at Orange Glen's basketball team, which is largely Latino.

As a result, Coronado High’s head coach was fired, and the basketball team was stripped of its championship. Additionally, the school’s athletic program was subject to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sanctions.

Days after the game, Coronado High alum Luke Serna told ABC 10News that he was the one who brought tortillas to the game, but he denied any racist component to the act.


Several community members also spoke on the board’s Agenda Item #6, which had to do with the “No Place for Hate” program.

Numerous speakers addressed concerns with the club, which is for students K-12 and is student-led. Dozens of parents took the podium and said that it has melted into the curriculum and was listed last year in student schedules. Therefore, it morphed away from a club.

They also expressed concerns about the content of what the club discussed. Many compared the program to Critical Race Theory.

According to their website, No Place for Hate is a self-directed program in more than 1,600 schools, helping all members of a school community have a role in combating bias and bullying to stop the escalation of hate.

The agenda item was just an update, and Board member Whitney Antrim shared that it is illegal for the board to disassemble the club altogether as it is student-run. However, the board did agree to come up with an alternative club committee that promoted similar virtues.

Board member Esther Valdes-Clayton said that the community was tricked, as children are having discussions in a classroom on gender identity, sex education, pronouns, and other topics.

Board member Stacy Keszei, agreed with Valdes-Clayton and asked that CUSD cut ties with No Place for Hate until the board and parents fully understood what the program discussed and means.

Keszei also asked that the board receive monthly reports for the club meetings and create guidelines for how the club meetings would take place. More information and action will be taken on this agenda item at the next board meeting on Sept. 9.