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Special education teacher gives student with autism award for 'most annoying'

NBC News logo NBC News 6/4/2019 Minyvonne Burke

An Indiana father said his fifth-grade son, who has autism, was given an award by his teacher for being "most annoying" during a ceremony with classmates and school faculty.

Rick Castejon told The Times of Northwest Indiana that he was at an awards luncheon last month for students at Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary, Indiana, when a special education teacher presented his 11-year-old son with the trophy.

Inscribed on the bottom of the award were the words: "Bailly Preparatory Academy 2018-2019 Most Annoying Male."

The Gary Community School Corporation said in a statement to NBC-affiliate WWLP "an apology was extended on behalf on the district to the family and disciplinary action was taken against personnel involved."

"We were blindsided. We just weren't expecting it," Castejon told the outlet. "As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student."

Castejon said his son is nonverbal, occasionally rocks back and forth and becomes easily emotional.

He told the outlet that other students, teachers and the school's principal, Carlita Royal, were present for the ceremony and he tried not to make a scene by leaving the award on the table but the teacher stopped him and his son and told them not to forget the trophy.

"We just don't want any other kids to go through this," Castejon told the paper. "Just because they have special needs doesn't mean they don't have feelings."

Royal did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

Castejon said he and his family already had plans to move to another city, and his son will not be returning to the school next year.

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