“With that being said, we sincerely apologize to anyone and everyone who was affected by this. This has been a drain on our family and I just want to move on,” Castillo wrote in an e-mail. “What was intended to be a way to honor our daughter for a job well done on her project has really gotten out of hand and we’re ready to put this behind us.”
His daughter was featured last week in this newspaper for receiving the award. A letter – which accompanied an engraved trophy, plaque and medal – attributed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) congratulated the fourth-grader at R.A. Hall Elementary School.
The NSF dismissed the award this week as a hoax since it does not even conduct a national science fair.
The story, picked up from this newspaper’s Web site, www.mysoutex.com, has become a hot topic of discussion on both science and political blogs.
Most bloggers quickly hypothesized that the story was a hoax and even contacted this newspaper for more information which led to Wednesday’s follow-up story exposing the truth.
“I had the unfortunate duty to have to explain to my daughter what was going on,” Castillo said in the e-mail. “She understands, but what upset her and us even more is that she was already being teased and asked by her friends about the incident.
“This is very unfair and very unfortunate... She had nothing to do with this and she is absolutely an innocent victim. We are now worried about the long-term effects and any and all repercussions that result from all of this.”
Bloggers at www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/ccoct/the_fake_science_fair_award_what_sort_of_person/ also raised numerous questions about Castillo’s own claimed credentials.
In 2008, Castillo ran for Beeville ISD trustee-at-large after serving previously on the board as Sub-District II representative. In his paid political announcement printed in the Bee-Picayune, his listed credentials included a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, a master’s degree in environmental engineering and a doctorate degree in chemical engineering.
The announcement said that Castillo attended the University of Texas at Austin, but did not say for which portion or portions of his education.
A phone call to the UT-Austin records office found that the university has no record of Castillo graduating with any degrees at that university, although he did attend from 1990 to ’94.
One of Castillo’s band Internet sites claims that he holds a master’s degree from Tulane University. Tulane has no record of Castillo graduating either.
The online bio also lists a master’s degree in music business and technology from the Berklee College of Music. A check with Berklee found that he had taken online classes for a certificate but had stopped in the spring of 2009 without completing the program.
Though he has cited his various degrees on his Web sites and while campaigning, Castillo repeatedly would not reveal from where the degrees actually came.
“The info you’ve come across on my sites is outdated and not correct. But for the record, I am resuming my studies with my master’s program at Berklee this summer that I suspended temporarily in the spring of 2009,” Castillo said in that e-mail. “I apologize to anyone who feels that they have been misled.”
A Classmates.com Web site for “Jaime R. Castillo” lists those schools in addition to Southern Methodist University and Auburn University.
A check at SMU records showed that he hasn’t attended that university. A record check with AU is still pending.
Castillo, who is also a musician, lists Safetex, USA and Castillo Global Technologies as his engineering business concerns.
However, a search of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Web site turns up nothing for either of the firms. A search of the Texas Board of Professional Engineers rosters finds no listings for either company or Castillo himself.