The father said that he tried not to make a scene and left it on the table while trying to leave the place. However, the teacher in question stopped him and his son and told them not to forget the trophy.
A special education teacher is one from whom we expect more empathy for students with disabilities. These teachers are trained to ease the learning process for those not blessed with being completely able-bodied and able-minded. And yet, a special education teacher in Indiana did something so tone-deaf and cruel that it left everyone shocked.
An 11-year-old fifth-grader who is autistic was given a trophy that said "most annoying male" for the school year by a teacher. The child's father, Rick Castejon, was indignant at the gesture that took place at the awards luncheon in front of students, parents, and the school's principal Carlita Royal at Bailly Preparatory Academy.
We were blindsided. We just weren’t expecting it,” Castejon told The Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper. "As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student."
The action of the teacher was not only insensitive but deliberately humiliating. He tried to mock an 11-year-old child who had no idea why the award was wrong on multiple levels. The child didn't have the ability to understand that the teacher meant to insult him instead of being encouraging or most importantly, dignified.
The trophy was inscribed with the words, "Bailly Preparatory Academy 2018-2019 Most Annoying Male." Rick said that he tried not to make a scene and left it on the table while trying to leave the place. However, the teacher in question stopped him and his son, Achilles, and told them not to forget the trophy.
The audience fell silent when the award was called out for Rick's son. When he got home and told his wife about it was when it hit him with full force. They decided to reach out to the school district and local news.
When Castejon got home and told his wife what had happened, he said the sick reality of the situation set in, and he decided to reach out to the school district and local news media, according to Scarymommy. Achilles obviously didn't realize what was being said about him and was “just excited to get a gold star." The father said that his son is nonverbal and occasionally rocks back and forth. He also becomes easily emotional, he told NBC News. “We just don’t want any other kids to go through this,” Rick said. “Just because they have special needs doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.”
He added that teachers would often call them with concerns about how to handle his son. “They called me all the time if he didn’t want to work, would cry or would have a breakdown,” Castejon told the newspaper. “A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these things.”
After the incident, his family got in touch with school administrators and met with the principal about the outrageous award. They discussed putting the teacher on a two-week suspension or firing them.
The school has since responded to the incident. "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," Gary Community School Corp. emergency manager Peter Morikis told the newspaper. "We extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family and anyone else who take offense to this unfortunate occurrence." They also added that "disciplinary action was taken against personnel involved.”
Their child will not be returning to the same school next year as the family already had plans to move to another city. The family hopefully doesn't ever have to suffer being part of an institution that doesn't know how to treat its students well anymore.