CIF awaiting investigation results of basketball championship discrimination incident

CHULA VISTA (KUSI) – On Saturday, after Orange Glen High’s predominantly Latino team lost to largely white Coronado High in overtime, some members of the crowd threw tortillas at Orange Glen athletes.

The incident has drawn censure from across California and additional responses at a special Thursday evening meeting of the Escondido Union High School District’s board. The board called the meeting in order to take up a resolution denouncing racism and racial discrimination, and affirming its support for equity, safety and the well-being of all students.

Escondido Union High School District passed a resolution denouncing racism, racial discrimination, and support for equity, safety, and well-being of all students.

“We called this special meeting this evening to publicly resolve that in the Escondido Union High School District we are against all forms of racial discrimination, racism and united in our support for equity, safety, and the well-being of all students,” said Board President Tina Pope at this evening’s meeting.

Furthermore, some Democrat San Diego lawmakers, State Sen. Ben Hueso and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, have called on the California Interscholastic Federation to revoke Coronado High’s regional basketball championship in response to community members throwing tortillas at the largely Latino opposing team as outrage continued Thursday over the incident.

State Sen. Ben Hueso wrote a letter to CIF saying the “intentional act was designed to be racist and should not now, nor ever, be tolerated.” Hueso continued, “The CIF cannot let any more time go by without acting. It must quash this behavior loudly and definitively to prevent future racist acts. There is no better way for the CIF to teach student athletes the consequences of racism than by stripping them of their team title.”

CUSD Governing Board of Trustees President Lee Pontes joined Good Evening San Diego to discuss the controversy. “However, I have seen many of the videos and heard recordings. No doubt in my mind, tortillas were thrown; cross words were expressed by many. If for those reasons alone, I fully support the statement promulgated by Superintendent Mueller on Sunday following the incident – his apology and the promise to mend fences are sincere, I have no doubt. As Board President, I intend to hold his feet to the fire,” said Pontes.

The person who claims to have brought those tortillas to the game that night said his request to submit a statement during Tuesday’s board meeting was denied.

Luke Serna, a Coronado resident and 1999 Coronado High Grad joined Good Evening San Diego to share a part of the story he feels is being withheld by school officials.

“This intentional act was designed to be racist and should not now, nor ever, be tolerated,” State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, said Thursday in a letter to the sports federation’s executive director and the leaders of its San Diego chapter. “Failure to impose swift and appropriate justice will become a tacit endorsement of the act itself by the CIF and violate CIF’s own principles of ethical character-building for student-athletes.”

The CIF on Thursday released its second statement regarding the incident, saying it was awaiting results of investigations by organizations that were involved.

“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 said in its statement on Thursday. “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.”

Leticia Cazares, president of the Governing Board at Southwestern College, issued a statement Thursday, saying, “As Governing Board Trustees, our top priority is to protect the physical, emotional and mental safety of our community members. This is a priority that all in the education sector must share and work together to ensure our students have the best opportunities to learn and become future leaders. What transpired around the Coronado vs. Orange Glen varsity boys basketball game on June 17 is an incident that we unequivocally condemn. Hateful actions that demean and dehumanize, intentional or not, should not be tolerated in any educational institution.

“This hurtful act affected the entire community and has illuminated the deep work that still needs to be done in diversity, equity and inclusion. We are committed to this work as a Board and we applaud the swift action of the Coronado Unified School District in recognizing that change begins with accountability.

“This is a reminder that educational leaders must work together to best support our students and ensure that we lead our institutions with inclusive and empathetic values. It is a lesson our institution holds dearly as we work to improve upon our own lessons learned. We must work in unity, with resolve and take unified action towards eliminating racist behaviors in our campuses and do better for our current and future students.”


Categories: Good Evening San Diego, Local San Diego News, Sports