In a disturbing report out of Indiana, the father of an 11-year-old boy with autism said his son was given a trophy in May by his teacher for being the “Most Annoying Male.”
Rick Castejon told the Times of Northwest Indiana that his son’s special education teacher at Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary, Ind., handed out awards at an end-of-year ceremony for a class of fifth graders.
The awards were distributed in front of the boy’s fellow students, his parents and the school’s teachers and principal.
“We were blindsided. We just weren’t expecting it,” Castejon said to the Times. “As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student.”
An administrator with the academy confirmed the incident took place and apologized on behalf of the school and district.
“An apology was extended on behalf of the district to the family, and disciplinary action was taken against personnel involved,” said Peter Morikis, an emergency manager for the Gary Community School Corporation. “The Gary Community School Corporation does not condone this type of behaviour and will continue to put the safety and well-being of our students first.”
At the ceremony, which was held at a local restaurant, the parents “fell silent” as the award was bestowed to Castejon’s son, according to the Times.
The trophy was inscribed in all capital lettering: “BAILEY PREPARATORY ACADEMY 2018-2019 MOST ANNOYING MALE.” (It’s unclear why the lettering did not spell “Bailly,” which is the correct spelling of the school’s name.)
Castejon said he made no comment and even tried to leave the trophy behind on a table. He said his son’s teacher then kindly reminded him not to forget it as if the incident were some sort of joke.
The upset father claimed that the school frequently called him throughout the year with questions about how to handle his son, who is non-verbal and emotionally sensitive.
“They called me all the time if he didn’t want to work, would cry or would have a breakdown,” Castejon said to the Times. “A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these things.”
READ MORE: What it’s like to raise a child with autism
As of this writing, it’s unclear if the teacher in question has been disciplined or if any action has yet to be taken. Castejon said he and his family are leaving Gary — plans made prior to the incident — and he will send his son to another school next year.