Credit: USA TODAY / Youtube
Lizeth Villanueva, a seventh grader at Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Houston, Texas was part of an award ceremony apparently designed to take students down a notch. According to The Washington Post, several teachers watched on as students were given ridiculous “awards.” One such award was given to Villanueva: “Most likely to become a terrorist.” You read that right. The teacher in question gave 13-year-old Villanueva the insulting certificate before saying that some people might get offended, but she didn’t really care about their feelings. According to Villanueva, her teacher then proceeded to laugh along with at least three other teachers.
Lizeth Villanueva, a 13-year-old Houston honors student, was given a superlative certificate for “most likely to become a terrorist.”
— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) May 25, 2017
Villenueva has no disciplinary history to speak of and has been an exemplary student, getting solid grades in the honors program for the last two years. Adding insult to injury, it was the day after the Manchester terrorist attack, where 22 people were killed by a suicide bomber. With anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiment running high right now, singling out the Salvadorian-American Villanueva must have been a particularly difficult thing — she hasn’t been back to school since.
The disgusting awards didn’t end there: a Black student by the name of Sydney Caesar was given an award for “most likely to blend in with white people.”
— Lindsey Henry (@LindseyFOX26) May 26, 2017
The school has said they’ve taken steps to correct this issue, but parents don’t think suspensions are enough. They feel the damage is already done and could happen again to others. Caesar’s mother, Latonya Robinson, told Houston news affiliate Fox26 News, “Everyone doesn’t believe that this is real. But yes, this certificate shows that this is real. This happened. And we have enough bullying as it is by other students, now it’s being done by a teacher.” Both parents want action to be taken. Villanueva thinks the teacher should be fired, and Robinson wants the same, telling Fox26 that a suspension for the rest of the semester isn’t enough punishment.
The principal of the school issued an apology via the school’s Twitter account.
Official Statement from Building Principal in response to fake awards: pic.twitter.com/BoZGRJajx4
— Aguirre Junior High (@AguirreBulldogs) May 24, 2017
The principal has reportedly taken action against the offending teachers, but wouldn’t release their names, saying it’s a “personnel matter.” However, someone let the teacher’s name slip.
NBC Houston affiliate KPRC 2 reported the teacher’s name is Stacy Lockett. One family has stood up for Lockett:
Credit: KPRC / Click2Houston
This parent said had three of her students went through Lockett’s class with no complaints.
The school district has issued an official statement on the incident:
“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.”
According to KPRC, there’s no word yet whether or not the teacher will be returning in the fall. But the students and families negatively effected by Lockett’s award ceremony, might be hoping for a substitute come next year.