GARY, Ind. – An Indiana father says he was “blindsided” after a teacher gave his 11-year-old son, who has autism, an award for “most annoying male.”
“We just weren’t expecting it,” dad Rick Castejon told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
Castejon said a special education teacher at Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary handed out the awards in May during an annual end-of-year ceremony and luncheon for fifth-graders.
The Times reported that the parents attending the event at a Golden Corral restaurant became silent as the boy received the trophy.
Castejon told the paper he tried to leave the engraved trophy on a table, but the unidentified female teacher reminded him not to forget it and acted like it was all in fun.
He said his son is non-verbal, sometimes rocks back and forth, and is prone to becoming emotional. Castejon says he now sees calls from the school during the academic year asking how to handle his son in a different light.
Castejon and his family are moving before the next school year begins, but he told The Times he’s speaking up so other families don’t go through a similar experience in Gary.
Peter Morikis, an emergency manager with the Gary Community School Corp., told The Times in a statement that they don’t condone the behavior and “extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family and anyone else who takes offense to this unfortunate occurrence.
“Just because they have special needs doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings,” Castejon said.
The Times is considering filing a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what disciplinary measures are taken against the teacher.