An Indiana father has expressed his outrage after a teacher gave his 11-year-old son with autism a trophy that dubbed him the “most annoying male” of the school year, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.
Rick Castejon of Gary said the unidentified special education teacher from Bailly Preparatory Academy gave the award to his son at a fifth-grade awards luncheon at Merrillville Golden Corral on May 23.
“We were blindsided,” Castejon said. “We just weren’t expecting it. As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
The trophy was given to Castejon’s son in front of other students, parents and the school’s principal, Castejon added. An inscription at its base reads, “BAILEY PREPARATORY ACADEMY 2018-2019 MOST ANNOYING MALE.”
Castejon told the paper that he tried to leave the award on the table after the lunch, but his son’s teacher reportedly approached him and told him to not forget the trophy. The father explained that he finally came to terms with what had happened after he had a conversation with his wife about the incident later that night.
On Monday, Gary Community School Corp. emergency manager Peter Morikis confirmed last month’s episode and condemned the teacher’s actions in a statement to the paper.
“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,” the statement read. “We extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family and anyone else who take offense to this unfortunate occurrence.”
Morikis said he immediately met with the family after learning about the incident and that disciplinary action was taken against the teacher who was involved. Castejon told the paper that the emergency manager had discussed putting the teacher on two-week suspension and would possibly fire the teacher.
When the school’s fifth-grade graduation celebration took place several days later on May 27, the teacher was not present, Castejon noted. The father said he is pleased with how the school handled the matter but wants to make sure that other students with special needs don’t experience the same kind of humiliation.
“We just don’t want any other kids to go through this,” Castejon said. “Just because they have special needs doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.”