Bailly Preparatory Principal Carlita Royal is facing termination over a “verbal conflict” with the mother of an autistic boy given a “most annoying” award at the school last month.
She is also cited for failing to prescreen the 5th grade student poll, with trophies given at an end-of-school ceremony at the Merrillville Golden Corral on May 23, according to documents obtained in a public records request.
The “most annoying boy” trophy given to the nonverbal child with autism has caused a national uproar in recent weeks.
After the May 23 incident, Gary Community School Corp. announced it would seek to fire three teachers: special education teacher Alexis Anderson-Harper and fifth-grade teachers Bianca Jones and Crystal Beeks. It later announced Royal would also be fired.
Prior interviews with the parents indicated that Anderson-Harper was the child’s teacher, while Jones and Beeks might have helped to create the awards list.
Royal, Anderson-Harper, Beeks were not immediately available for comment. Via text, Jones declined comment.
In an interview, Rick Castejon, father of the child, Akalis, 11, confirmed his wife Estella confronted Royal at the school’s office the next day.
His wife was told to make an appointment, he said. She was told “we don’t have time for this right now,” he said.
Estella Castejon then demanded to see Anderson-Harper, her son’s special education teacher, Rick Castejon added.
She was told if she went toward the classroom, she was going to have a cop there, Rick Castejon said. As she left, Estella Castejon angrily put the trophy on the front desk counter in the school’s office.
“Maybe you guys are annoying, but my son’s not annoying,” she said, according to Rick Castejon.
By Monday, when Rick went to pick up his son’s report card, the trophy was still there, he said. He grabbed it to take it home.
“I can’t believe these people,” Castejon said he thought to himself. “They really don’t care.”
In documents signed by Deputy Superintendent Nakia Douglas, school superiors concluded that Royal’s contract as an administrator and teacher with Gary Community Schools be terminated, in part because Royal, as witnessed by other staff, was “inappropriate and unprofessional” toward the boy’s mother.
They also concluded she failed to give a full account of her interactions with the Castejon family — omitting the incident — during their investigation.
“Despite being asked through the investigation to relay all communications that had occurred between you and the student’s family, you did not disclose this in-person verbal conflict with the mother,” the documents state. “As an administrator, it is your duty to cooperate in personnel investigations and to truthfully and fully answer all questions posed to you.
“In addition, you have a duty to always maintain professional communications and interactions with parents of your students,” the documents added. “By failing to handle yourself in a professional manner toward the student’s mother when she came to your office, you neglected this duty.”
The documents add that at first, Royal told them she did not prescreen the awards, believing it was a practice that predated her at Bailly Prep. If she had seen the list, she would not have approved it, documents state.
Royal, 35, was placed on paid leave on June 7. On June 11, she received a letter saying her contract would be cancelled, pending an appeals process.
Anderson-Harper, 42, awarded the trophy to the boy and a “female general education student,” documents state. She was reprimanded in a memo the next day, on May 24.
Jones, 42, was accused of creating the “most annoying” award with another teacher as part of a wider student poll.
In the June 7 letter signed by Royal, Jones displayed “poor professional judgment” and failed in her duty as a teacher to treat children with dignity and respect, it stated.
Gary Teachers Union President GlenEva Dunham said earlier via text the union’s lawyer was working to make sure each received due process. Emergency Manager Pete Morikis also said in a public meeting it would be provided.
Both Anderson-Harper and Jones are accused of neglect in their duties as a teacher and just cause. They have five days from each letter to set up an appeals appointment with Deputy Superintendent Nakia Douglas. After that meeting, they would have another five days to set up another meeting with Morikis.
Post time: Jun-18-2019