Coronado School District votes to release head basketball coach after tortilla-throwing incident

UPDATE 6/23/2021: Luke Serna has publicly admitted to being the person who brought the tortillas to the championship basketball game between Coronado and Orange Glen. He posted a series of tweets explaining he had no racist motive, but “was strictly wanting to help the team celebrate if they won.”

In another tweet, Serna says he supplied all this information to the Coronado Union School Board before their Tuesday meeting, “but they seemed to feel the need to withhold it.”

CORONADO (KUSI) – Coronado Unified trustees announced following closed-door board discussions Tuesday, to release the head basketball coach of Coronado High after fallout from a tortilla-throwing incident that’s currently under investigation.

The actions came following public comment during the special board meeting about what transpired following the Coronado High and Orange Glen championship basketball game Saturday night.

Before tortillas were hurled towards players of the Orange Glen team, Coronado Coach JD Laaperi approached their bench in an aggressive manner, said Escondido assistant coach Brian Gallo.

“It’s a shame when people lose their jobs but when you are a leader of young men and student athletes I think there’s no place in the game for that,” Gallo said. “I think that’s the right call. You can watch the video that KUSI took that night, it’s clear what happened.”

Sources close to KUSI have confirmed that the person who brought the tortillas is a graduate from Coronado High School’s class of 1999, and is Hispanic. He is cooperating with police, and the incident may not be a hate crime.

Many universities across the country hold or have held tortilla tosses as a celebratory tradition, since they can easily be thrown like frisbees to travel long distances. UCSB, Baylor, Michigan, Cal Poly, and Texas Tech are just a few of the major universities that have traditional tortilla tosses.

KUSI’s sources also say the person who brought the tortillas is a UCSB graduate, and brought them to the championship game in a attempt to relive a tradition from his time at UCSB.

Members of the Coronado community gave public comment, condemning the leaders for rushing to judgement, without conducting an investigation first.

The captain of Coronado’s basketball team, Wayne McKinney, also spoke, explaining that the person was not associated with the team and apologized for the tortillas being thrown.

 

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