Coming home with an award from school is one thing—bringing home a "ghetto classroom award" signed by your teacher is quite another. "Tears just started falling out of my eyes," Texas resident Debra Jose tells CBS DFW of her grandson's dubious honor. "I was like, 'What did they just do to him again?' I just lay in bed and thought about it all night long." Officially labeled "8th Annual Ghetto Classroom Awards," the certificates were handed out in a class of learning-challenged students at Sulphur Springs Middle School in Sulphur Springs, Texas. They bear signatures over the names of two teachers in the class and "SSMS Principal," but Superintendent Michael Lamb says it's news to him: "Shocked," he says. "Shocked. Truly, it goes in layers."
The school is investigating after the award was posted on Facebook and "other parents didn't 'get the joke' either," WGCL Atlanta reports. Lamb says one of the faculty members named on the award, second-year teacher Mrs. Garner, handed out such awards "for six years in a prior district. It went unnoticed." The teacher had been a special-ed teacher in the Carrollton Farmers-Branch school district in Carrollton, Texas, which serves the Dallas area. Lamb says Garner also gave such awards to as many as 60 kids last year at her current school. So what's the point? "It’s like you’re putting them in a 'place,'" says Jose. "If [the teacher] knew what ghetto meant, she would have never approached that, because, being an African-American, we were always thrown that." (Read about two university students expelled for leading a racist chant.)