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A Utah grade school teacher is on administrative leave after she ordered a young Catholic boy to remove the ash from his forehead on Ash Wednesday.
“We take the matter very seriously and are investigating the situation. The teacher is currently on administrative leave,” Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams told USA TODAY.
Fourth Grader William McLeod showed up at school Wednesday with an ash cross on his forehead. Like millions of other Catholics he was commemorating Ash Wednesday – a day of repentance.
“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,’” William said.
William told Salt Lake City’s Fox 13 that he was the only student in his class with an ash cross and his teacher pulled him aside.
“She took me aside and she said, ‘You have to take it off,’” McLeod told the station. “She gave me a disinfection wipe — whatever they are called — and she made me wipe it off.”
After the principal learned what had happened, he immediately contacted William’s family.
“Why that even came up, I have no idea,” the school spokesperson said. “When a student comes in to school with ashes on their forehead, it’s not something we say ‘Please take off.'”
The teacher has reportedly sent a hand-written apology to the student — along with a bag of candy.
“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.