(TMU) — A special education teacher in Indiana is in hot water after giving an 11-year-old student with autism a trophy for “most annoying male.”
Speaking to the Times of Northwest Indiana, the boy’s father, Rick Castejon, said he was “blindsided” when his nonverbal son was given the award last month during an end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Bailly Preparatory Academy. “We just weren’t expecting it,” Castejon said.
The award was presented in front of the boy’s classmates, parents, teachers and principal during the ceremony at the Merrillville Golden Corral. The room reportedly fell silent after the award, which read “Bailly Preparatory Academy 2018-2019 Most Annoying Male,” was presented.
Peter Morikis, Gary Community School Corporation’s Emergency Manager, confirmed the incident in a statement. The statement read:
“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. We extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family and anyone else who take offense to this unfortunate occurrence.”
Gary Community School Corporation said in a statement, “an apology was extended on behalf of the district to the family and disciplinary action was taken against personnel involved,” but not before the teacher spoke with Castejon, acting as if the matter was simply a joke and reminded the family not to forget to take their award home. School officials have discussed putting the teacher on a two-week suspension, or possibly firing her.
Castejon maintains that he has not been previously concerned with the actions or behavior of Bailly Preparatory Academy staff. “They called me all the time if he didn’t want to work, would cry, or would have a breakdown,” Castejon said. Speaking of the trophy, he added, “A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these things.”
Due to relocation plans made prior to the incident, Castejon’s son will not be enrolled at Bailly next year.
“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,” Castejon said.