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BOUNTIFUL — A 4th grader said Thursday he accepted an apology from his teacher after he said the teacher made him wash off an Ash Wednesday cross from his forehead.
“I accept her apology because she’s actually a really nice teacher,” William McLeod said. “I feel really bad for her.”
McLeod, who attends Valley View Elementary School, said the teacher initially inquired what was on his forehead Wednesday.
“When the teacher saw it, she came over and said, ‘what is that,’” McLeod said. “I was like, ‘I’m Catholic and it’s for Ash Wednesday’ and she’s like, ‘no, that’s inappropriate in our school. Go wash it off!’”
McLeod said the teacher then told him to wipe the cross off with a disinfectant wipe, despite his repeated attempts to explain what it was.
“I went to the office and I was crying because I felt like I was in trouble,” McLeod said.
A statement from Davis School District said the teacher’s actions were “unacceptable” and the district apologized for what happened.
“No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead,” read the statement from district spokesman Chris Williams.
The statement said the district’s director of educational equity, as an ordained Catholic deacon, offered to apply an ash cross to the student’s forehead, which the family allowed him to do.
McLeod said he received an apology from the teacher along with some candy.
“’William, I am so sorry about what happened today,’” the letter stated. “’I hope we can move forward from this.’”
According to the district statement, the teacher was placed on administrative leave.
McLeod’s grandmother Karen Fisher said though she was angry about what happened, she hoped the teacher would not lose her job. Instead, she said she hoped for more understanding and respect for the diversity of religious beliefs.
“That’s what I would hope they would talk about at some point,” Fisher said.