Seventh grader Lizeth Villanueva has been in her school’s academic honors program for two years. She gets good grades and has never been a discipline problem. Yet on Tuesday, her teacher gave her a “most likely to become a terrorist” award.
It was supposed to be a joke, part of a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas, near Houston, where a group of teachers hand certificates to students. Lizeth, 13, said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate, just one day after the Manchester arena terrorist attack in Britain.
But Lizeth’s mother Ena Hernandez didn’t find the award funny at all.
“I was upset and very mad when I saw the award,” Hernandez told The Washington Post. “I was surprised because my daughter has been doing well in the honors program.”
Lizeth, who is Salvadoran American, wasn’t laughing either. Her emotion was one of shock, she said.
She said two honors classes were brought together for the fake ceremony. Other awards included “most likely to cry for every little thing” that was given to a girl and “most likely to become homeless” that was presented to a boy.
The three other teachers in the room laughed when the awards were handed out, according to Lizeth.
Channelview Independent School District spokesman Mark Kramer told KPRC the awards were a “poor attempt to poke fun and it “wasn’t well thought out.”
Ena Hernandez said the principal Eric Lathan personally apologized during a meeting at the school.
In a statement the school district said:
“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.”
Hernandez says she wants them fired or else “they will continue doing the same thing.”
Lizeth hasn’t been back to school because she “feels uncomfortable.”