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Mayor Blasts Board Over Tortilla-Throwing Response

Andy Berg

The mayor of Coronado, Calif., is demanding that the Coronado Unified School District’s board apologize for condemning a tortilla-throwing incident that occurred following Coronado High School’s regional championship victory over Orange Glen.

Following the June 19 win, Coronado players threw tortillas at players from Orange Glen, a largely Latino school.

A day after the Coronado school district board voted unanimously to appeal the California Interscholastic Federation’s decision to vacate Coronado’s win, mayor Richard Bailey asked the school board to apologize for issuing a statement that asserted the tortilla-throwing incident was “fueled by racism, colorism and classism.”

Related: HS Coach Fired After Tortilla Hurled at Opposing Team

Bailey has appeared on Fox News, describing the actions of the board and the CIF as a “rush to judgment,” saying both have falsely characterized the team and the community.

“There’s a big difference between unsportsmanlike conduct, unsportsmanlike conduct that is racially insensitive and a racially motivated act,” Bailey said Wednesday at a news conference, where he was joined by dozens of Coronado parents. “These are the same student-athletes that nominated two players on their team — who are players that just happened to be Black and happened to be half-Black and half-Hispanic — to represent them as their team captains.”

Related: High School's Title Vacated Over Tortilla Throwing

Bailey said the school board’s initial statement that was released following the game was premature, noting that it was issued before an investigation had been completed.

Coronado Unified School District superintendent Karl Mueller said that after reviewing audio and video evidence, he found no evidence that would require the school to forfeit its title. 

The CIF did not agree.

“After a thorough review and analysis of the incident following the conclusion of the Division 4-A regional basketball championship game between Coronado High School and Orange Glen High School, the CIF state executive director reiterates that discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” reads a CIF statement that was reported by the Times of San Diego. “In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”

Coronado High School has since been placed on probation through the end of the 2024 school year, and the Islanders boys’ basketball team will not host postseason contests at the section, regional or state levels through the 2023 school year and all other teams in the Coronado High School athletic program will not host postseason contests at the section, regional or state levels until all Coronado administrators, athletic director, coaches and players complete a sportsmanship workshop which includes a component of racial/cultural sensitivity training and completion of game management training for all Coronado High School administrators and athletic directors.

Related: District to Appeal CIF Ruling in Tortilla-Throwing Case

Luke Serna, a Coronado alumnus, said he brought the tortillas to the game, saying he was evoking a tradition at the UC Santa Barbara, where he has also attended.

“The tossing of tortillas is used as a celebratory action by the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at various sporting events including basketball and soccer,” Serna said.

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