GARLAND, Texas - Hickman Elementary is one of this city's most diverse campuses, but it is now under scrutiny after giving some students awards based on their race.
"This is wrong. This is absolutely wrong," said Rene Morris, the grandmother of a fifth-grader at Hickman. "They said this is an African-American award."
Two teachers at Hickman handed out multiple awards to fifth graders on May 25, including ones for science, reading and perfect attendance.
But four students were also recognized during the school ceremony because of their race.
An African-American boy and girl who earned good grades and had good behavior, but need some encouragement, received the Goldie Locke Excel Award.
In addition, a Hispanic boy and girl who met the same criteria were given the New Image Award.
"I didn't hear the Vietnamese awards," said Morris, who is white. "I didn't hear the Eastern Indian awards. I certainly didn't hear any white awards. And if that happened for any of them, I would have been as appalled."
Garland ISD said this is the first time in six years anyone has expressed concern about the awards, which originate from private organizations.
The Garland Association for Hispanic Affairs gives out the New Image Award, and the Goldie Locke Excel Award is from the Garland Chapter of the NAACP.
The Excel Awards are meant to encourage struggling African-American students to stay in school, according to Annie Davis, the 2nd Vice President of the NAACP Garland Chapter. The awards have been given out for 20 years, she added. The recipients first are honored at the NAACP's own banquet.
But that's not what concerns Morris. She said Hickman's teachers should not recognize the same students again for the awards during the campus' awards ceremony.
Recognizing race separates students, Morris contends.
The district said it will re-examine whether there's a better way to honor student progress in a way that embraces their differences, rather than highlights them.