A middle school teacher in Sulphur Springs apparently has a tradition of handing out “Ghetto Classroom Awards” to students. The Root reports that the teachers have landed in a bit of hot water over what they claim was intended to be a joke. Some parents found the awards decidedly unfunny.
Jerrika Wilkins sparked controversy after posting a photo of the certificate on Facebook, explaining that it was part of the “8th Annual Ghetto Classroom Awards,” given to her eighth-grade son at Sulphur Springs Middle School for saying “Huh?” a lot in class, the report says.
Wilkins told Fox News that her son was “pretty hurt” by the award. “He feels pretty inferior,” she said. “You know, he want to succeed. You know, it just kind of hurt his feelings.”
The school’s principal called an emergency meeting, at which, Wilkins says, one of the teachers, Tim Couch—who also serves as pastor at the Cross Branch Cowboy Church in Sumner, Texas—apologized. The other teacher, Stephanie Garner, offered to resign, but the family said they didn’t want that, Fox writes. The district also issued an apology to the family.
The family said that they were told the awards went out to all the kids in the classroom as a joke and were not meant as a racial slur.
“‘Ghetto’ was not supposed to be a malicious intent to degrade him,” said Wilkins. “It was supposed to be all in fun. I didn’t take it that way.”