BOUNTIFUL, Utah (CBS Local) — A fourth grader in Utah says his teacher forced him to wipe off the ash cross from his forehead to commemorate Ash Wednesday, saying he wasn’t allowed to wear a religious symbol to class.
William McLeod received his cross on Ash Wednesday like many other Catholics around the world. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter.
But the cross didn’t stay on McLeod’s forehead very long, KSTU reported.
“The teacher walked over and said like ‘what is that?’ and I was like ‘its Ash Wednesday and I’m Catholic. It’s the first day of Lent’ and [she] was like ‘no, its inappropriate — go take it off.'”
McLeod’s attempt to explain the meaning of the symbol apparently 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.”
McLeod said the incident at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful unfolded as many of his classmates watched.
“They saw the teacher wipe it off because they wiped it off in front of all my friends,” McLeod said. “I felt like, really bad.”
After learning of the incident, McLeod’s family received a call from the principal apologizing for the mishap. And later in the day, McLeod received some candy and a handwritten message from his teacher.
“It said William, I am so sorry I hope we can move things from here,” McLeod said.
The school district says that they’re investigating the event and that the teacher could be disciplined as a result.