Student Forced to Remove Ash Wednesday Cross

Tags: Currents, Faith, National News

Currents News Staff 

A Utah teacher is apologizing after she didn’t allow one of her students to wear a religious symbol at school.

Like millions of Catholics and Christians around the world, William McLeod received an ash cross on his forehead to commemorate Ash Wednesday. The boy’s teacher made him wipe it off when he got to school.

“They put it on your forehead to show holiness,” said McLeod. He was the only student in his class with an ash cross on his forehead.

“A lot of students asked me what it is. I said I’m Catholic. It’s the first day of lent. It’s Ash Wednesday – to celebrate being closer to God.” But the cross didn’t stay on William’s forehead very long.

“The teacher walked over and said like what is that and I was like it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m
Catholic. It’s the first day of lent and she was like no its inappropriate go take it off,” he said.

His attempt to explain the meaning of the symbol fell on deaf ears.

“She took me aside and she said you have to take it off. So, she gave me a de-infection wipe, whatever they are called, and she made me wipe it off,” he said.

He says it happened as many of his classmates watched.

“They saw the teacher wipe it off because they wiped it off in front of all my friends. I felt like, really bad,” he added.

The school’s principal called his grandmother as soon as she learned of the incident.

“I was pretty upset,” said Karen Fisher. The teacher also called.

“I asked her if she read the Constitution with the First Amendment and she said no and ohhhh,” said Fisher.

The Davis School District says what happened is not acceptable.

“Why that even came up, I have no idea,” said Chris Williams a spokesperson for the Davis School District.

It wants students of all faiths to feel welcomed. “When a student comes in to school with ashes on their forehead it’s not something we say please take off,” said Williams.

Later in the day William received candy and a handwritten message from his teacher.

“It said William I am so sorry I hope we can move things from here,” he said.

He and his family hope this will serve as a valuable learning experience.

“I hope it helps somebody and I hope it never happens again and I don’t think it will,” said Fisher.

The school district is taking this incident seriously and is investigating. The teacher could face disciplinary action.