'I Was Crying': 4th-Grader Speaks About Teacher Telling Him to Remove Ashes From Forehead
Teacher apparently unaware of Catholic ritual.
A Utah boy and his grandmother are speaking out after a teacher told him to wash the Ash Wednesday cross from his forehead.
William McLeod, a fourth grader at Valley View Elementary School, received the ash marking Wednesday morning for the Catholic religious day that signals the start of the Lenten season.
On "The Story," William explained that his teacher - apparently unaware of the Catholic ritual - asked him what the marking was.
He twice tried to explain that he got it for the Catholic religious holiday, but she forced him to wipe the "inappropriate" ashes off with a disinfectant wipe.
William said he was upset by the incident and he was crying when he went to see the school psychologist because he thought he was in trouble.
William's grandmother, Karen Fisher, said she got a call from the school's principal and she was "plenty angry."
She said she later received a call from the teacher, and she apologized and asked what could be done to rectify the situation.
"I said, 'Nothing, I've never been in this situation. I've raised four boys here and this has never happened.' So I didn't know what to do, whether I should call my priest or what," Fisher said.
The teacher apologized with a handwritten note and candy, and William said he accepts the apology.
Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams also apologized for the incident and said an investigation is being conducted. In the meantime, the teacher is on leave.
“Why that even came up, I have no idea,” Williams said. “When a student comes in to school with ashes on their forehead, it’s not something we say, 'Please take off.'"
William said he feels bad about the whole incident, because he believes the teacher genuinely was not aware of the significance of Ash Wednesday.
UPDATE: The teacher, Moana Patterson, later apologized in a public appearance, explaining she had "no idea" about Ash Wednesday and how the day is observed.
"It was a total misunderstanding," she said.
The boy's grandmother said the explanation was "hard to swallow," arguing that William told Patterson multiple times about Ash Wednesday, yet she still made him wash the ashes off.