Alvin ISD wanted to name a school after a principal who died of COVID. His widow told them no.

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The wife of an Alvin ISD principal who died from COVID-19 told the district this week his family does not want her late husband’s name on a new middle school because she said the school system “did not honor him in life.”

LeRoy Castro, former principal of Alvin Junior High School who worked for the school system for 14 years, was worried about the district’s lax implementation of mask requirements when students returned to the campus during the 2020-21 school year, said Mary Castro, his widow. The principal signed up for a substantial amount of additional life insurance to better provide for his family because he thought he was at a high risk of contracting and succumbing to the virus, she said.

“Before being hospitalized on Oct. 12, (2020), LeRoy believed his life insurance was in place because premiums had been deducted from three paychecks by then,” Mary Castro said during public comment at Tuesday’s board meeting. “Sadly, he was wrong.”

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After he died, the family’s claim on the insurance was denied because his employer never notified Castro that he needed to complete a form to finalize the benefits he selected in an online portal, she said.

“The harm that the district has caused my family and the lack of respect shown to my husband is why we don’t want his name affiliated with the district,” she said.

The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Area districts typically closed on Fridays for a period after the school year ends.

In a statement provided to ABC13, which first reported that Castro’s family does not want the school named after him, Alvin ISD officials said the district is “receptive to his family’s request” but did not specify whether it would go forward with the proposed name.

“We…remain deeply saddened by his passing and we are extremely sensitive to the loss his family continues to experience,” the statement reads. “…Our desire is to move forward in a way that honors Principal Castro’s legacy while also honoring his family’s desires.”

Mary Castro said no one from the district has directly responded to her public comment.

The widow said while her husband was in the hospital, a district employee mentioned in passing that he should fill out the form once he recovered. By then it was too late, she said.

“I was devastated to receive this information more than two months after LeRoy applied for benefits, ironically, the day after he had been rendered unconscious and placed on a ventilator,” said Mary Castro. “…He never regained consciousness and died without knowing that his family would not be cared for as he wished.”

Mary Castro has garnered support on social media, with hundreds of comments on a public Facebook post, most of which express disdain for the district’s handling of her husband’s insurance.

“No family should have to go through what you are dealing with; especially that family of a man that cared as much about the kids, teachers and schools as Mr. Castro did,” Katie Garner, an Alvin resident, commented on the post.

Alvin ISD’s statement called the late principal “an outstanding educator that exemplified tremendous care, concern and high expectations for his students.”

“As a district, we are extremely grateful for the impact that he had on his students and on our community as a whole,” the statement says. “We are thankful that his legacy of excellence continues to be a model for all of us that were impacted by his life. His heart for service and tremendous character were the basis for which his name was considered to be honored with the naming of a school.”

Mary Castro said the district has not respected her husband or his legacy.

“Why didn’t they honor my husband while he was alive by telling him he needed to fill out one form to finalize his life insurance?” she said. “At a minimum, I hope they honor our wishes and don’t name a school after him. I also hope they look into the fact that they don’t have proper procedures in place to notify employees about benefits.”

hannah.dellinger@chron.com



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