A Utah teacher has been placed on leave after forcing a fourth-grade student William McLeod, to remove the ashes from his head on Ash Wednesday and calling the ashes “inappropriate”.
McLeod, 9, had just returned to school near Salt Lake when his teacher, Moana Patterson, pulled him aside and gave him a hand sanitizer, forcing him to remove his ashes in front of his classmates, his grandmother, Karen Fisher, said.
“She took me aside and she said, ‘You have to take it off,’” McLeod said. “She gave me a disinfection wipe – whatever they are called – and she made me wipe it off.”
At first William protested that he couldn’t remove it because it was important for the beginning of Lent but eventually acquiesced. “He went to see the school’s psychologist crying,” said Fisher. “He was embarrassed.”
In a written statement on the incident, Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams, said: “We take the matter very seriously and are investigating the situation. The teacher is currently on administrative leave. We are sorry about what happened and apologize to the student and the family for the teacher’s actions. The actions were unacceptable. No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead,” the statement reads.”