A Utah school is apologizing after a fourth grader was left in tears after being told to remove the Lenten ashes from his forehead on Ash Wednesday. William McLeod, a student at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah had attended Ash Wednesday services before going to school and had been marked with ashes on his forehead in the shape of a cross. For Catholics and some other Christians, this is a traditional start to the season of Lent.
The Boston Pilot reports that his teacher, Moana Patterson told him the ashes were inappropriate and forced him to wipe them off with a sanitizing wipe. Patterson’s grandmother Karen Fisher said “He went to see the school’s psychologist crying. He was embarrassed.”
The school has issued an apology and placed Patterson, who gave McLeod a note and some candy in apology, on administrative leave. “The actions were unacceptable,” district spokesman Chris Williams said, according to the Associated Press. “No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead.”
Jean Hill, government liaison for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, said that this was an opportunity for people to learn about other faiths. The diocese is also very grateful to the young student who used the situation to educate his teacher about a part of his faith and its importance to him,” the Boston Globe reports Hill said. She added “Learning about one another is one way we build community across religious, political, racial, ethnic and other borders.”
Watch a local news interview with the McLeod family here. His grandma, Karen Fisher, might be my new favorite person.