State seeks to suspend teachers after student with autism received “Most Annoying” award

Posted at 2:17 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 14:17:46-04

GARY — The Indiana Department of Education is taking action to suspend three Gary educators after a student with autism received the “Most Annoying” award.

On August 14, the Indiana Department of Education filed formal complaints against Alexis Anderson Harper, Crystal Beeks and Carlita Royal who worked at Bailly Preparatory Academy.

Harper and Beeks worked as teachers at the school, and Royal was the building principal, records show.

IDOE is asking an administrative law judge to suspend Harper and Beeks’ teaching licenses for six months.

The state wants Royal’s license suspended for a year.

As RTV6 reported, the family of Achillas, a non-verbal 11-year-old with autism, were upset when a teacher handed the boy an award trophy labeled “Most Annoying Male.”

According to the complaints filed by the Indiana Department of Education, the teachers chose the categories for the awards and tallied the votes after being distributed to students.

Harper, Beeks and Royal did not accept responsibility for their actions following the incident, read the IDOE complaint.

“(Beeks) said it was the students fault a special education student received the award because they voted for him/her,” read the IDOE complaint.

The state also criticized Royal, who served as building principal at the time.

“Ms. Royal placed all of the blame on the teachers and accepted no responsibility for a special education student receiving this kind of award,” read the complaint. “Additionally she acted unprofessionally when dealing with the (student’s) family after the incident.”

IDOE says the educators committed acts that involve “immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, and/or willful neglect of duty.”

An Administrative Law Judge will get to decide, after a hearing, if he wants to accept, modify or reject the Department’s recommendation, according to IDOE spokesperson Adam Baker.

RTV6 emailed and called the school to try to get a response and we are waiting to hear back.

A teacher with a suspended license would not be able to teach in any school, during the suspension period, that requires a teacher to be certified/licensed.

According to the complaint, the Gary Community School Corporation terminated the teaching contracts with Royal, Harper and Beeks following the incident.

However, all three are still listed on the school’s website.

RTV6 emailed all three teachers seeking a response to the IDOE complaint.

Achillas father, Rick, wants an apology from the teacher.

"When they called him up, he was just excited to get a gold star because it was shiny," Rick said.

The Gary Community School Corporation released a statement saying they do not condone this type of behavior and will continue to put the well-being of their students first.