Texas Teachers Allegedly Hand Out 'Ghetto Awards'

Today in WTF-worthy news, a North Texas middle school is under fire after CBS 11 News reported that two teachers handed out "Ghetto Awards" to special needs students. (And if that's not the the most bizarre and offensive end-of-year ceremony I've ever heard of, then I don't know what is.) It allegedly all went down at Sulphur Springs Middle School in Dallas last week, where CBS 11 reports that two teachers hosted something dubbed "The 8th Annual Ghetto Awards." (Yep, that's right — according to the outlet, there were seven more of these things that managed to escape the attention of teachers and parents. But more on that in a minute.) While the district confirmed the story to CBS 11, when Bustle reached out to the school for comment, a rep was unavailable as of Tuesday.

So what exactly is a "Ghetto Award"? According to CBS 11, the jury's still out on that one. But as Sulphur Springs Superintendent Michael Lamb told the outlet, "It is not something SSISD is proud of. It is not acceptable. It is not anything we want to be a part of... and we are addressing it today."

One woman who definitely agrees with him is Dallas grandmother Debra Jose, who says her 14-year-old grandson was one of the unlucky award recipients. Jose told CBS 11 that the boy, who is part of a class for students with learning challenges, came home last week with a piece of paper signed by two teachers the outlet only identified as a Mrs. Garner and a Mr. Couch. Printed clearly on the front was the teen's "honor": he had received "The Huh? Award." (Whatever that means, I'm willing to bet good money it's not a compliment.)

While speaking with the outlet, Jose shared:

Tears just started falling out of my eyes. I was like, ‘what did they just do to him again?’ I just lay in bed and thought about it all night long. I couldn’t sleep very [well]. You want the best for children — not just my grandchild — but, every child.

The only thing more problematic than the nature of the awards ceremony itself is the fact that once teachers were reprimanded for handing out the awards, Lamb says they both claimed they had no idea the term "ghetto" could even be seen as racially offensive. (You can go ahead and roll your eyes at that one; you're not alone.) If this is true, they have also apparently never met a dictionary.

As for the awards allegedly being handed out for the eighth year running, Lamb notes that the others must have happened at one of the teacher's previous schools. "It's something this teacher did for six years in a prior district," Lamb told CBS 11, though he didn't name which teacher was responsible specifically. "It went unnoticed." According to CBS 11, the teacher in question was previously a Special Education teacher in the Carrollton Farmers-Branch school district.

While the school itself has still not confirmed the report, and it's not clear if Mrs. Garner and Mr. Couch will be penalized, I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that at the very least, The 8th Annual Ghetto Awards will probably be its last.

Image: Edgar Solis/CBS 11 News