The family of an 11-year-old autistic boy is speaking out after a teacher at his private school selected him to win the “Most Annoying Male” award at an end-of-year ceremony.
The incident took place at the private Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary, Indiana. As CBS News reported, the award was given at a ceremony held on May 23 as students were gathered at a restaurant. The boy’s father, Rick Castejon, said that the parents in attendance fell silent when the award was announced. The boy’s family said they did not want to make a scene and tried to quietly leave the award behind, but the boy’s teacher came to remind them to take it.
As Castejon said, the teacher tried to play off the award as a joke, but he didn’t see it that way.
“We were blindsided. We just weren’t expecting it,” Rick Castejon told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
The report included a picture of the trophy, which had the words “Most Annoying Male” engraved in a plaque that was attached to its base. Castejon told the newspaper that he had received calls from teachers throughout the year expressing concern for the fifth grader’s behavior, and he believes the award may have been something of retribution against the boy.
The incident sparked controversy and a reaction from the school district. Peter Morikis, the emergency manager at Gary Community School Corp., said that he met with the family as soon as he learned of the incident and that the teachers involved were disciplined. In a statement to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Morikis said that the district “does not condone this type of behavior” and extended an apology to the family or anyone else offended by the incident.
The story attracted national attention, with many speaking out against the teacher and the school district for allowing it to happen. Many called for the teacher to be fired, but it was not clear if that was going to happen. District officials would not say exactly what happened to the teacher involved, so The Times of Northwest Indiana filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine the teacher’s employment status.
This Indiana teacher deserves a failing grade in sensitivity after giving an 11-year-old autistic boy a trophy labeling him “most annoying male” at a fifth-grade awards luncheon.https://t.co/jnT5TN3cyY
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 4, 2019
For the Castejon family, the damage for the incident is done — and so is their time with the district. Rick Castejon said the family is moving to another town and will not be in the Gary school district anymore.