Parents Outraged After Teacher Gives Their Autistic Son 'Most Annoying' Award

I have known many teachers in my time, both as a student and as a grown-up, and while a handful of them might have lacked a certain degree of tact at times, by and large, they knew where to draw the line. Teachers who don't know where that line is, or ignore it, don't last long in the profession.

It looks like one teacher crossed a line in a bad way, and might have paid the price for it.

A family in Gary, Indiana was left stunned and outraged when their 11-year-old autistic son received an award as "Most Annoying Male" from his school.


Rick Castejon was on-hand at the school's fifth-grade awards ceremony, as were other parents, students, and the principal, when, after handing out awards for things like "class clown" and "most improved" student, the special education teacher called out his autistic son's name to announce him as the "most annoying" student.

The room went silent when the award was handed out.

The Times of Northwest Indiana | Rick Castejon

"We were blindsided. We just weren't expecting it," Rick told The Times of Northwest Indiana. "As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student."

Trying not to create a scene, Rick left the award on a table.

NBC Chicago

However, the teacher called him back to remind him to take it with him and played it off like a joke. Rick's son, Akalis, just liked how shiny the award was and didn't realize it was making fun of his condition.

But, when he showed the trophy to his mother, Estella, she hit the roof.

Estella immediately called the school, and went in for a meeting the very next morning.

NBC Chicago

She demanded an apology, but did not receive one from either the principal or the teacher. However, the school district did later issue an apology.

"An apology was extended on behalf of the district to the family, and disciplinary action was taken against the personnel involved," said emergency manager Peter Mokiris. "We acknowledge the potential impact that an experience like this could have on a child's mental well-being, self-esteem and overall level of comfortability in a learning environment going forward."

For Rick and Estella, the trophy, which even has the name of the school misspelled, was the culmination of a frustrating year.


Akalis is non-verbal and occasionally rocks back and forth, and will have the odd emotional outburst.

"They called me all the time if he didn't want to work, would cry or would have a breakdown," Rick said. "A special needs education teacher should know how to handle these things."

The Castejons had already planned on moving, so Akalis won't be headed back to Bailly Prep next year.


But Rick and Estella still wanted to make sure no other child with special needs has to go through anything similar. "[Kids with autism] just want to be liked, they just want to have fun, be treated like normal people, that's all," Rick told NBC Chicago.

h/t The Times of Northwest Indiana, WLS-TV, NBC Chicago

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