Teacher no longer employed by district after awarding student 'most likely to become a terrorist'

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

CHANNELVIEW - After a seventh grader at Lance Cpl. Anthony Aguirre Junior High School brought home a controversial award from her teacher that read, "Most Likely to Become a Terrorist," the community has weighed in.

With more than 1,100 Facebook shares and thousands of comments, this has sparked discussion about whether or not this was an appropriate way to "poke fun."

Channelview Independent School District official Mark Kramer said it was one of the "fake mock awards" a seventh-grade teacher distributed to students to her class. Kramer also described it as a "poor attempt to poke fun," and an activity that "was not well thought-out."

Lizeth Villanueva, the 13-year-old who received the award, said other students got awards too.

"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.'"

Lizeth said other teachers were in the room when the awards happened. She said her teacher had prefaced her award with another "joke."

"[The teacher] said she was scared to give out this award because she doesn't know what might happen ... The teachers [laughed], too. There were four."

Villanueva's family said school officials told them the teacher was suspended until the end of the year. Friday was the last day of class.

Meanwhile, family members of students voiced their concerns.

"No, it's not funny, and they shouldn't find it funny either," said Iranesha Alexander whose younger sister is also a seventh grader at Aguirre Junior High. "If it was on the other foot, they wouldn't be laughing."

Other parents made online comments that people may be taking the award too seriously.

Erik Mendez said his son will attend the junior high next year. While he understands humor, he said this is not the time nor place for it.

"Joking around here and there, but with everything going on now, that's not a way to approach ... a jokingly way or any type of situation. A joke with that? No," Mendez said.

Since the story posted, the post has received more than 1,100 of shares and nearly 1,000 comments.

District parent Ron Patient said he hopes the district learns from this.

"The district is responsible for the school. They're responsible for the teachers and the actions of the teachers," Patient said. "I hope that going forward this never happens again."

The students who received the "awards" were enrolled in AVID, an advanced learning and college prep program.

"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," AVID CEO Sandy Husk said in a statement.

Family members of the district are now weighing in.

"This is supposed to be a fun day," Iranesha Alexander, whose sister is also a seventh grader at Aguirre Junior High. "This last day of school but now the child is going to be sad and that shouldn't be."

It's a sad day, also for parents defending the teacher.

"Three of my kids have been through Lockett's classes, and I have only good things to say about her," said Claudia Landaverde. "She is amazing. She teaches her kids. She has them on schedule. All of her kids are college bound."

Landaverde's eigth-grade daughter, 13-year-old Evelyn Ruano, is devastated.

"She's very sad. She would come home every day and all she would talk about is Mrs. Lockett," said Landaverde.

"She's a really great teacher," said Evelyn. "The way she teaches her students, she makes it feel like it's a second home for them."

Evelyn is an eigth-grade student in Lockett's AVID class -- a program that prepares advanced students for college. AVID's logo was placed on the certificate.

Evelyn doesn't think her teacher meant any harm, and she'd hate to see her go.

"I really don't like it because a lot of students could be learning a lot while she's suspended, and she can't teach," said Evelyn.

Channelview ISD officials said the teacher is no longer employed by the district.

The district sent out the following statement:

"The Channelview Independent School District would like to emphasize that a recent incident where insensitive and offensive mock awards presented to students are in no way associated with the AVID College Readiness System or the AVID Center. Channelview ISD does not support this type of recognition under any circumstances and the placement of the AVID logo on these certificates was an error. At no time was the AVID program itself involved in this unfortunate incident.

"The AVID System is an outstanding college readiness model that has led to continued high levels of student achievement in Channelview ISD. AVID’s system has benefited hundreds of thousands of students worldwide since 1984. Working together with the AVID Center, Channelview ISD’s AVID system provides intensive support to students with tutorials, positive peer groups, and college-readiness skills.

"Channelview ISD would like to reassure the community that this incident does not reflect the many good things going on in our district. The district does not condone the incident that occurred and we are taking this matter very seriously."

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