Paul Krueger and R. Stickney, NBC San Diego, November 1, 2013
After two football coaches were photographed in blackface, San Diego Unified District Superintendent Cindy Marten announced their suspension and called the incident “a teachable moment.”
Serra High School principal Mike Jimenez initially refused to comment when asked about the photo showing head varsity football coach and physical education teacher Brian Basteyns and assistant football coach Howard Seeley and a third man in blackface.
District officials called for an investigation, the teachers union defended the coaches’ actions and parents were divided on the issue.
On Friday, Superintendent Marten said the coaches were apologetic and did not mean to offend anyone with their costumes as the Jamaican bobsled team.
Pressed for details, a district spokesman later clarified that it was three employees, not two as Marten announced, who have been suspended for two days without pay as a result of the photograph.
Lei-Chala Wilson, President NAACP San Diego Branch, said the organization hopes people understand that blackface is not funny.
“In 2013 there is no reason for someone to have to be in blackface,” Wilson said.
Marten could not say if the coaches would be with Serra HS at Friday’s game.
Basteyns and Seeley were also listed as coaches for the San Diego Force, a semi-pro baseball team in the Western Baseball Association on the organization’s website before it was disabled Tuesday.