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Utah Teacher Forces Catholic Boy to Wash Off Ash Wednesday Cross

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A teacher in the predominantly Mormon state of Utah was placed on administrative leave after she forced a Catholic student to wash off the Ash Wednesday cross from his forehead. William McLeod, 9, had just returned to his school near Salt Lake City after attending …
Karen Fisher via AP
WARNER TODD HUSTON

A grade school teacher in Utah forced a 4th-grade Catholic boy to wash off the “inappropriate” Ash Wednesday cross from his forehead.

As Catholics and Christians enter into the season of Lent, many Catholics attend Mass to receive the sign of the cross smudged onto their foreheads to commemorate their faith. But one teacher in Utah apparently felt that displaying the Christian cross in a public school was somehow illegal.

William McLeod, a fourth grader at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, was forced to remove his Catholic markings, according to the New York Post.

The 9-year-old boy had just returned from Catholic Mass, but his teacher, Moana Patterson, told him that the ashes were “inappropriate” and gave him a hand wipe to remove the display, the boy’s grandmother, Karen Fisher, told the media.

At first, William explained that he couldn’t remove it because it was important for the beginning of Easter, but eventually obliged, Fisher said.

“He went to see the school’s psychologist crying,” said Fisher. “He was embarrassed.”

The boy’s grandmother said the incident infuriated her.

The school eventually apologized for the teacher’s anti-Christian actions.

“Why that even came up, I have no idea,” Chris Williams, a spokesperson for the district said. “When a student comes into school with ashes on their forehead, it’s not something that we say, ‘Please take off.'”

“The actions were unacceptable,” Williams added. “No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead.”

Williams also noted that the teacher in question is no longer in the classroom as the district mulls possible disciplinary actions.

The child said that he got a written apology along with a candy bar from the teacher.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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