School district looking into offensive student certificate

It's that time of year when children are bringing home trophies and achievement awards as school lets out for summer, but one certificate given to students at Sulphur Springs Middle School is being called offensive.

If it was meant as a joke, the mom of a boy who got the certificate didn't find it very funny.

The mom posted a photo of the certificate on Facebook. It says it's part of the "8th Annual Ghetto Classroom Awards," given to her eighth-grade son for saying "Huh?" a lot in class.

The boy's family doesn't believe the certificate was racist; they believe that passing the certificates out, especially to a special education class, was bad taste.

The boy's mom says her son struggles in school, and the award didn't help his self-esteem.

When the boy's mother saw it, she said her first reaction was to tear it up. She felt angry and a bit confused as to what was meant by "ghetto."

"Pretty hurt, you know," said Jerrika Wilkins, the boy's mother. "He feels pretty inferior. You know, he want to succeed. You know, it just kind of hurt his feelings."

The boy's mom and other relatives attended a two-hour meeting at Sulphur Springs Middle School.

At the meeting was the principal, assistant principal and the two teachers involved in giving the award.


They boy's family says that one of the teachers, Tim Couch, who also serves as pastor at the Cross Branch Cowboy Church in Sumner, TX apologized.

The other teacher, Stephanie Garner, offered to resign, but the family said they didn't want that.

The family says they were told the awards went out to all the kids in the classroom as a joke, and was 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."

The awards are not endorsed by Sulphur Springs ISD, nor Jena Williams, principal of Sulphur Springs Middle School.
Her initials were even forged by the teachers.

SS ISD deems this action unacceptable and the matter is under investigation.

The family accepts their apology.

Thursday was the last day of school for Sulphur Springs district.

It's unclear whether the teachers will be placed on administrative leave.

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