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.

9-year old student William McLeod, who was forced to remove his ashes on Ash Wednesday.

“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.”

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  1. Some areas are not heavily Catholic. The school seemed to get ahead of it immediately. The teacher apologized. End of story. If the school delayed or nothing was done,big story.

  2. She actually made at least two mistakes . Asking him to wipe it off and then not listening to him when he tried to explain .

  3. I am from the south and had never seen or heard of ashes being applied until I converted to Catholicism. Ignorance does not excuse the choice that was made but it is not my place to condemn this teacher. I know for a fact that I have not always made the perfect decision, in every situation, while working with my students. I applaud the young man for standing up for his beliefs and pray that his family uses this as a learning experience for their community.

  4. Cheese and Crackers People. It IS possible that the teacher was unaware of what Ash Wednesday and the Sign of the Cross on a person’s forehead means. If she didn’t, however, she didn’t listen to the young boy’s explanation and in front of the whole class reprimanded him. THAT was what she did wrong. The child was embarrassed in front of his classmates. Once she became aware of the significance of the ash cross, she was very apologetic. As far has putting her on leave, I hope it’s not for very long. Any one of us can make a mistake about something we don’t understand.


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