A Pennsylvania mother has been left outraged after her autistic son was given an end-of-year award by teachers that named him “Most Likely to Get Lost in a Crowd,” and is claiming it’s a “type of bullying.”
The incident has since sparked an investigation by school officials.
Desiree Perez, whose son Kelvin just completed sixth grade at Normandin Middle School in New Bedford, said she was picking up his end-of-the-year paperwork when she saw the blue certificate, adding that her son wasn’t at school that day.
“I found it disrespectful because she knows mostly than anybody that I struggle a lot with my son.”
Teachers apparently gave the autistic boy a paper that reads, “Most Likely to Get Lost in a Crowd” and his mother is demanding answers. https://t.co/ylZTkPxfDV
— WSBT (@WSBT) 18 June 2019
“I thought that was very wrong. I didn’t think it was funny,” she said. “My son didn’t find it funny either. He said, ‘Why was the teacher giving him this award because he was never lost in school?’”
Perez was furious as her son’s grades were “all As, Bs, and Cs,” she told local radio station WBSM.
“That’s his award for the whole year. Everything he did all year, and that’s what he got.”
“That’s how innocent these kids are. He doesn’t get what they were saying about him,” she said of her son, Kelvin.
Following the incident, the furious mother met with the middle school’s principal, who apologized, but said there was nothing much he could do.
“He said he was sorry about it. He was asking for me to forgive this incident, and he said that he couldn’t do anything about the teachers because they had already left for vacation,” Perez explained.
Kelvin’s mother said the fact the award signed was by her son’s teacher was especially disrespectful, as she “knows more than anybody that I struggle a lot with my son.”
“He didn’t even talk until he was 7 years old. He’s been through a lot, and people don’t get that. They don’t get what he’s gone through and what I’ve gone through.”
A “full investigation” into the incident is now underway, confirmed a New Bedford School District spokesman, who said the superintendent, Thomas Anderson, is aware of what happened.
“We expressed our sincere apologies to our student and his family,” Anderson told Yahoo Lifestyle in a statement.
“This situation further highlights the need for us to continue our work around communication and remain in a cycle of continuous learning and improvement. I am confident that we will continue to grow and evolve into our best selves to support all of our students.”
The boy’s mother said it wouldn’t have been right to present the superlative to any student, and wants to meet with the superintendent, WJAR reported.
“I felt very bad because I don’t think this should be given, not only to my son, not to any kid because every kid struggles in school,” Perez said.
Perez added she hopes the teachers involved in the incident will learn their lesson.
“They should only give positive awards. These kids struggle every day with what they have to go through.”
According to a New Bedford Public School spokesperson, all district administrators are attending a two-day workshop on equity “to strengthen our understanding of all students, their families, and the overall community,” Yahoo Lifestyle reported.
Teacher Gives Autistic Boy ‘Most Annoying’ Award
In a separate incident, an Indiana father 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 in May.
Rick Castejon told The Times of Northwest Indiana, he was “blindsided” when his son, who is in fifth-grade, was given the trophy on May 23 by a special education teacher at Bailly Preparatory Academy.
“We just weren’t expecting it. As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student,” he said.
Gary Community School Corp. emergency manager Peter Morikis said in a statement, “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.”