Supporters Rally for Coach Accused of Bullying


Amidst a growing amount of criticism many parents and students gathered in force at Rancho Bernardo High School to support head basketball coach James Choe Thursday. Choe’s supporters organized the rally for the embattled coach who has been has been accused of bullying, racism and discrimination.

The supporters were passionate in their belief of Coach Choe and clear in their support for him, referring to the charges as absurd.

The accusations made their way to the NAACP in San Diego last November as an anonymous complaint but Lei-Chala I Wilson, president of the organization said complaints have continued to come in to the NAACP via e-mail. This comes on the heels of an investigation by the Poway Unified School District last fall after they too received an anonymous complaint alleging bullying, racism and rudeness by Choe.

However the district confirmed that the case was now closed and Choe was still employed at Rancho Bernardo High School. The district also acknowledged they do not typically investigate anonymous cases but made an exception given the bullying charge. Some of the specific charges the complaint alleges include screaming, use of four letter words and pitting players of different races against one another in practice. It also charges Choe with referring to players from an opposing team as “inner city black kids.”

Two different parents, Vince Maldonaldo and Brandon Dixon are not happy with the results of the investigation nor the way Rancho Bernardo has handled their complaints. Maldonado  took matters in to his own hands as his son, the starting point guard from the previous season did not return to Rancho Bernardo this school year because Choe allegedly harassed his son repeatedly.

Nixon’s son played for Choe for two years and he claims to have witnessed Choe embarrass his players first hand. “I would characterize the basketball program at Rancho Bernardo High School as a culture of intimidation,”  Nixon said.

Both men also indicated they were not done pursuing the matter.

Choe was named CIF Coach of the Year in San Diego in 2010 after his Rancho Bernardo team made it to the section championship but now his coaching methods have come under scrutiny. Supporters that rallied for the coach against the bullying accusations Thursday described the anonymous claims as a vendetta from a former student.

Scott Fuller, a former player and coach at Rancho Bernardo firmly denied the accusations being leveled at Choe and reiterated he never saw any preferential treatment or discrimination.

Where the matter goes from here is to be determined. The school district has made their decision so for them to change course on the matter would require more information or pressure from the NAACP. At the moment that has not yet occurred, though the NAACP said they plan to pursue the matter with the PUSD. Why they have not to this point is not known.

Choe’s supporters will continue to rally for the coach facing bullying accusations until they have a resolution to that matter. Choe has not commented on the matter.

By Mick Varner

KGTV 10 News
NBC San Diego

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