San Diego School District to Investigate High School Coaches' Blackface Appearance

A parent provided the photo saying students are offended by the costume choice by Coach Basteyns and Assistant Coach Seele

By Chris Chan and R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013  |  Updated 6:23 AM PDT
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District to Investigate High School Coaches' Blackface Appearance

The photo in question - provided to NBC 7 by a Serra HS parent who said students were offended by the costume.

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The day after news reports surfaced alleging San Diego-area high school coaches appeared in blackface Halloween costumes, a school board member said he has every confidence the incident will be investigated.

Serra High School principal Mike Jimenez said he had no comment when asked about a photo showing high school coaches in blackface at a recent private Halloween party.

Blackface is defined  as "makeup applied to a performer playing a black person."

Parent Sally Smith provided the photo to NBC 7 and claimed that students were offended by the appearance of the men she identified as Brian Basteyns and Howard Seeley.

Basteyns is the head football coach for the Serra High School varsity football team and is also a member of the school’s staff, listed as a physical education teacher.

Seeley is an assistant coach on the team according to the school’s website.

NBC 7 has attempted to reach Basteyns by phone but our calls have not been returned.

San Diego Unified School Board trustee John Lee Evans said Tuesday that he has not seen the photo but said he had been informed about “some inappropriate activities by members of the San Diego Unified staff.”

“If there is inappropriate behavior, that needs to be dealt with by the superintendent and her staff,” Evans said. “We take these situations very seriously because we hold our employees to a very high standard.”

Evans said there is a superintendent who handles any issue involving race and human relations in the district.

“I have every confidence she will investigate it and take whatever action is appropriate,” Evans said.

Parents outside the school were split on the issue.

“It had nothing to do with the school. I mean, if they went to a party on their own personal time and were together as friends and didn’t include any of the kids for the high school more power to ‘em – go have fun but for it to come out on the news, I think it’s ridiculous. It’s insane to me,” said Rosalina Taylor.

However, a woman who has an African-American/Hispanic daughter enrolled at Serra High School said the photo was disrespectful.

“For them being adults, I think they should know better,” the woman told NBC 7, asking not to be identified. “Don’t pretend you’re black until you’ve walked in those shoes.” 

Basteyns (pictured right) 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. A graphic telling users the site is ”under construction” appears in place of the page that previously held Basteyn’s bio.

NBC 7 phone calls to the general manager for the San Diego Force have not been returned. 

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