A number of Texas middle school teachers landed in hot water after naming a student “most likely to become a terrorist” in a mock awards ceremony held on Tuesday.
The recipient, Lizeth Villanueva, a seventh grade student in the Channelview Independent School District, expressed shock after receiving this dubious distinction along with a certificate as part of the mock awards ceremony held during an AVID class, an advanced learning program that prepares students for college.
“I was shocked,” said 13-year-old Villanueva, a student at Anthony Aguirre Junior High. She told KPRC.” [The teacher] said, ‘Most likely to become a terrorist,’ and she said my name, and she gave me this.”
“Most like to be a terrorist” was written on the award and just below was her teacher’s signature.
Channelview ISD spokesman Mark Kramer said this was one of the “fake mock awards” a seventh-grade teacher presented to students in the class. He underscored that this was a “poor attempt to poke fun” and that the activity “wasn’t well thought out.”
According to Villanueva, the teacher said she gave other students awards with a disclaimer that “it might hurt [students’] feelings.” She said the teacher meant it to be funny. However, Villanueva’s mother, Ena Hernandez, was furious and said her daughter was hurt, as was the family.
“When she first showed me the paper, I’m like, ‘What is this?’ After reading it again, Hernandez remained stunned. “That’s when my daughter told me it was supposed to be a joke,” she said. “It doesn’t look like a joke to me.”
Hernandez told KHOU the award was equally upsetting as the teacher gave it to her daughter one day after the Manchester, England bombing the killed 22 people and wounded dozen more.
“It doesn’t look good at all, especially coming from a teacher, a grown-up woman,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t look good because everything that’s going on right now.”
Hernandez also shared her daughter has never had a discipline problem. She said the principal personally apologized to the family during a meeting held at school, although Villanueva did not return to class since the incident. According to the school district’s academic calendar, Friday marked the last day of the school year.
Although the school district would not confirm the names of any teachers allegedly involved because it is considered a personnel matter, they did advise these individuals are being disciplined in accordance with policy.
Channelview ISD also released a statement:
The Channelview ISD Administration would like to apologize for the insensitive and offensive fake mock awards that were given to students in a classroom. Channelview ISD would like to assure all students, parents, and community members that these award statements and ideals are not representative of the district’s vision, mission, and educational goals for our students.
The teachers involved in this matter have been disciplined according to district policy and the incident is still under investigation.”
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