Source: Coronado Unified School District
“The Sobel Group investigation reveals the complexities of intention versus perception, as individual first-person accounts of events illustrate how different perspectives and experiences can exist simultaneously,” said the Unified School District superintendent of Coronado, Karl Mueller.
The events following the June 19, 2021 Southern California Boys’ Basketball Championship game between Coronado High School and Orange Glen High School have generated unprecedented public interest locally and nationally. The school community is aware that a CIF appeal committee recently issued a decision modifying the original penalties. As stated in the appeal committee’s decision, the district legal counsel at the hearing retained the services of a private investigator, the Sobel Group, to conduct an investigation. At the time, the investigation was conducted to assist legal counsel in the appeal, so it was a lawyer ‘s job. As a result of the appeal committee’s decision, the district received several requests for a report under the California Public Records Act.
The redacted copy of the investigation report can be accessed here: Sobel Report.
After careful consideration, it was concluded that the report is no longer privileged and that the public has a right to examine parts of it. In light of this determination and in the interest of transparency for the school community, the district has decided to release a redacted copy of this report. Due to the strong interest in protecting student privacy and security, all student interviews have been written up. The names of witnesses and other private information not directly related to the events following the championship basketball game have also been redacted. The District believes this strikes an appropriate balance between the protection of privacy and security and public access to this document.
The report did not provide a summary or conclusion. The information contained in the report which supported the position of the appeal was used during the hearing. The investigation provides several first-person accounts of incidents that occurred before, during and after the CHS defeated OGHS in the Division 4-A Regional Championship basketball game. Investigators contacted 40 people, including administrators, coaches, students / players, parents and other witnesses present at the event. Not all of the witnesses accepted the interviews. The Sobel Group submitted the 128-page report to the CUSD lawyers on September 10, 2021. On December 10, the district legal counsel released Sobel’s report to the CUSD, understanding that there was no further action. in justice.
On June 21, CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti sent a letter to CUSD Superintendent Karl Mueller, giving him two days to submit an investigation. Mr. Nocetti verbally extended the date for submitting the investigation until the business day close on June 25. Not included in the report, but relevant to the timeline:
On June 22, the district took action to release CHS men’s basketball head coach JD Laaperi, citing a blatant violation of the CIF Code of Conduct, the California Education Code and the CUSD Board policy regarding disciplinary action. No further disciplinary action was taken by the CUSD.
On June 25, Superintendent Mueller sent a letter to Mr. Nocetti. Mueller summarized evidence gathered from several witnesses, audiovisual footage and personal statements related to the incident. Mueller concluded that “… we saw no evidence of antagonization from the players, actions or behaviors that warranted abandoning the game. The young men on the pitch played hard, fairly and won the championship. ” June 25, 2021, CIF Letter.
On June 30, Nocetti took unilateral action, imposing seven sanctions against the CHS.
On July 6, the CUSD appealed the sanctions.
On November 1, CUSD lawyers presented an appeal to a three-member panel of the CIF Board of Directors.
On November 22, the CIF Appeal Board rendered its decision. Four of the Director’s sanctions were amended or withdrawn and three were maintained. Ultimately, the final sanctions against the CHS were: cancellation of the state championship; three-year probation for the boys’ basketball program (“probation” was not defined by the CIF); One-year suspension from organizing men’s basketball playoffs after completing a team sportsmanship workshop and match management training for CHS administrators and athletic director.
On November 30, the Board of Directors of the CUSD met behind closed doors and decided not to take further legal action.