Student with autism’s ‘Most Annoying’ award topic at board meeting

GARY, Ind. — A controversial award given to a student with autism was the topic at a board meeting Tuesday in Gary.

Three teachers are facing termination in response to the incident in an Indiana school in which a student with autism received the “most annoying male” award. 

Because of due process, no official action was taken regarding employment at the meeting.

According to a statement released last week by the school district, an internal investigation was launch after parents of a fifth grade student said their son was humiliated at an awards luncheon.

Akalis Castejon is non-verbal and had just finished the fifth grade at Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary. The school ended with a special awards luncheon for the students.

Rick Castejon, Akalis’ father said they gave out awards for things like “best student,” “funniest,” “class clown,” and other categories.

He said his son was singled out by students and teacher and received the “most annoying male award.”

Rick and Akalis’ mother, Estella Castejon, attended Tuesday’s meeting. Several members of the board apologized to the family.

As a result of the district’s investigation, three teachers were found to have participated in creating the award and are now facing termination.

One of the teachers, Alexis Anderson-Harper, told the Northwest Indiana Times she feels like a scapegoat after news reports of the matter drew a firestorm of criticism.

A letter sent to her by the school’s principal and made public by the district said in part:

 “...You exercised poor professional judgment and engaged in inappropriate behavior by handing out these awards to students in front of other students, staff and parents who were present at the luncheon...”

WGN News attempted to contact the teachers but they have not returned calls for comment.  It is unknown if they will be attending the meeting.

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