One of the children was 7th grader Lizeth Villanueva from Lance Cpl. Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas. She said that other teachers stood by and laughed as one of their colleagues signed and handed out the certificates at a mock awards ceremony.
She told an NBC affiliate, "They just found it as a joke … She said that some people might get offended, but she doesn’t really care about our feelings; she was laughing about it."
Her mother, Ena Hernandez, said, "I read it twice. I’m like, 'What is this?!'"
"It doesn’t look good at all, especially coming from a teacher, a grown-up woman," Hernandez continued, pointing out that her daughter never has discipline problems and is enrolled in the advanced academic program. “It doesn’t look good because of everything that’s going on right now."
"I just think it’s going to stop, it’s going to end there," she said.
The ill-advised activity came just a day after 22 people were killed and dozens injured in a bombing in Manchester, England, after an Ariana Grande concert. Daesh later took credit for the attack.
Lizeth said that another student got an award naming him the "’Most Likely to Cry About Every Little Thing,’ because [that student] is very emotional… There was another one about this kid. His was kind of like a joke because all his friends would call him, 'Little homeless Indian.' And [the teacher] told him, 'Most Likely to Become Homeless in Guatemala," Click 2 Houston reports.
Both Lizeth and other recipients are a part of a college prep program called AVID, CEO Sandy Husk commented on the incident saying, "This is a reprehensible action of a single teacher that does not in any way reflect the AVID values, or the values of the thousands of AVID teachers across the US who impact our students daily."
When the story first broke it was shared more than 1,100 times on Facebook and received over 1,000 comments. One user wrote, "Mock awards? I find no humor in this at all … I feel sorry for not only this 7th grader, but for all of the students taught by this teacher."
The Channelview Independent School District (CISD) will not reveal the names of the teachers involved but according to a spokesperson they are being disciplined as policy dictates.
Lizeth said she’d like to see the teachers, "Get fired, at least, or something."
CISD released a statement saying that they 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."
School district official Mark Kramer called the certificates a "poor attempt to poke fun," that was "not well thought out."