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'Most Annoying Male' award given to Bailly Preparatory Academy fifth grader

Gary parent Rick Castejon says this award was given last month to his 11-year-old son, who has autism, at a Bailly Preparatory Academy awards lunch.

GARY — The Gary Community School Corp. will be seeking the termination of Bailly Preparatory Academy Principal Carlita Royal following an internal investigation of a May 23 luncheon in which an 11-year-old student with autism was given a trophy naming him the “Most Annoying Male” in his class.

Gary Emergency Manager Pete Morikis made the announcement Tuesday night at a Gary schools board meeting at the Gary Area Career Center.

The father and grandmother of the Bailly the fifth-grader given the trophy at an end-of-year awards luncheon at the Merrillville Golden Corral sat in the front row of the Gary board meeting.

"This is not the type of attention we wanted or services that we wanted for our grandson," the student's grandmother Angie Castejon said addressing the board. "We took him to a place that we thought was safe, that we thought was going to provide the guidance, the culture and the teaching that he deserves."

Three Bailly teachers — Bianca Jones and Crystal Beeks, who teach fifth-grade, and Alexis Anderson-Harper, who teaches special education — received notice last week that Gary schools will seek to cancel their contracts with the district.

Anderson-Harper, who was the teacher of Rick Castejon's fifth-grader, has disputed claims she bares the responsibility for handing the award to the 11-year-old Bailly student. She told The Times on Saturday that other teachers at Bailly provided her with special education class with a ballot to vote for class superlatives such as "Most Friendliest," "Most Sleepiest" and "Most Sociable". 

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The special education teacher said she had no knowledge of who would be given the "Most Annoying" title until the day of the May 23 luncheon at the Merrillville Golden Corral where she was asked to hand out trophies to the winners as another teacher read names. Multiple reports indicate both Castejon's son and another general education student were presented with "Most Annoying" trophies.

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Larona Carter, who was sworn in as advisory board vice president during the Tuesday night meeting, apologized to the Castejon family and issued a call to action in the Gary community.

"This is not isolated," Carter said. "There are other parents who have probably dealt with the same situation you have, but have not spoken about it. So, I'm asking, community, we cannot be successful without you. We need everybody to play their part if you really want to see change."

Rick Castejon, father of the Bailly fifth-grader, said he has been in contact with a representative from the Autism Society which has offered awareness and sensitivity training for Gary schools.

"We just want these kids to have a better life," Rick Castejon said. "Gary's coming up. i see it. I've been living here for 10 years. It's changing. this is the time to make that change."

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.