A father from Gary, Indiana, has hit out at a school in the region after his 11-year-old son, who has autism, received a “Most Annoying Male” trophy from his teacher during an awards luncheon last month.
Speaking to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Rick Castejon said he was “blindsided” when his son, who is in fifth-grade, was given the trophy by a special education teacher at Bailly Preparatory Academy.
“We just weren’t expecting it,” Castejon told the publication. “As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
The parent said his son was presented with the trophy on May 23 at the school’s end-of-year awards ceremony and luncheon at the Merrillville Golden Corral, in front of his son’s classmates, parents, and the school’s principal, Carlita Royal.
The incident reportedly caused other families to fall silent.
The words “BAILEY PREPARATORY ACADEMY (sic) 2018-2019 MOST ANNOYING MALE,” were etched into the trophy, Castejon said.
— nwi.com (@nwi) June 3, 2019
Initially, the father decided not to kick up a fuss and left the trophy on the table at the luncheon.
But he said he was stunned when his son’s teacher spoke to him, acting like the matter was a joke. After the teacher told him not to forget the award, Castejon then met with school staff to discuss his concerns.
Gary Community School Corp. emergency manager Peter Morikis confirmed the incident in a statement this month, reported The Times of Northwest Indiana.
Morikis told the publication he had spoken and apologized to the boy and his family, and confirmed that disciplinary action was being taken against the personnel involved.
“The Gary Community School Corporation does not condone this type of behavior and will continue to put the safety and well-being of our students first,” Morikis said.
“We extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family, and anyone else who take offense to this unfortunate occurrence.”
Castejon was assured by Morikis that his son’s teacher could be suspended for two weeks, and that she could possibly be fired.
But when asked by the publication if the employment status of any members of staff involved in the incident had been affected, Morikis refused to answer.
“We acknowledge the potential impact that an experience like this could have on a child’s mental well-being, self-esteem, and overall level of comfortability [sic] in a learning environment going forward,” Morikis continued.
The father told The Times that teachers at Bailly Preparatory Academy regularly called his family asking how to best manage his son’s behavior, but added he wasn’t concerned until he was presented with the trophy.
CNNH Neuropsychologist, Michael Baniewicz, PsyD, breaks down 5 symptoms of social communication deficits in children and adults with Autism!#AutismAcceptance #ThinkDifferently #Celebratedifferences #SeeAmazing pic.twitter.com/voGHpDbjcL
— CNNH (@TheCNNH) May 31, 2019
“They called me all the time if he didn’t want to work, would cry, or would have a breakdown,” Castejon told the publication, adding that his 11-year-old son often becomes emotional, rocks back and forth, and is nonverbal at times.
“A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these things,” he added.
The father said that his son will not be attending schools in Gary next year as the family plans to relocate to Valparaiso, but that the decision had been made prior to the incident.
“We just don’t want any other kids to go through this. Just because they have special needs doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings,” he told The Times.
Florida Teacher Wrote ‘WTF’ on Student’s Assignment
In related news, a Florida-based teacher sparked outrage when she wrote “WTF,” an acronym for a now commonly-used expletive, on a student’s homework assignment.
The student’s mother, Melinda Smith, was appalled by the language written by the teacher at Rutherford High School in Bay County as feedback for her son’s science homework.
“WTF is this? Absolutely no credit,” the teacher wrote in red pen last month.
Smith told local news station WJHG that the language was “very inappropriate and not acceptable for a teacher whatsoever.”
“Just seeing WTF what is this, you know, basically … is this there’s no credit, it wasn’t anything about not getting the credit, it was more so the language [of] the writing to students,” she said.
The school’s principal, Coy Pilson, said he has discussed the incident with the teacher involved in the matter.
While the school is taking the necessary steps to address the situation, it is unclear if the teacher will be facing any repercussions at this stage.