An Indiana father says he is appalled that his son, who has autism, was given a trophy for "Most Annoying Male" at a school awards luncheon.
Rick Castejon said his 11-year-old boy, who is in the fifth grade at Bailly Preparatory Academy, received the award during a ceremony attended by students, parents, teachers and the school principal, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
"We were blindsided. We just weren't expecting it," Castejon told the paper. "As a principal or teacher, you should never let this happen to any student."
School officials met with the family and issued an apology.
"The Gary Community School Corp. does not condone this type of behavior and will continue to put the safety and well-being of our students first," said emergency manager Peter Morikis in a statement to the paper. "We extend our deepest apologies to the impacted student, the family and anyone who take offense to this unfortunate occurrence."
The father said the incident happened during a year-end awards ceremony held last month. He said parents fell silent as his son was given the trophy. Castejon said he did not want to cause a disturbance at the event, so he said nothing.
But later, telling his wife at home what happened, the dad said he began to feel upset.
His son is nonverbal and can easily become emotional, he said. Teachers routinely called about his behavior, Castejon told the Times. "A special needs teacher should know how to handle these things," he said.
The family is planning to move and will be enrolling their son in a new school, Castejon said. He decided to speak out, he said, to help other special needs students and their families.
"Just because they have special needs doesn't mean they don't have feelings," he said.