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Utah teacher apologizes after forcing boy to wash ash cross off his forehead

William McLeod says a teacher told him he had to wash the ash cross off his face on Ash Wednesday. [COURTESY PHOTO VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS]
By Gary Dinges gdinges@gatehousemedia.com
Posted: Mar. 8, 2019 12:16 pm Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 12:19 pm

A teacher at a Utah elementary school could face disciplinary action after forcing a student to wash an ash cross off his face on Ash Wednesday.

The fourth-grader came to class with the religious symbol on his forehead, according to Salt Lake City TV station KSTU. After being questioned by his teacher, the boy, William McLeod, tried unsuccessfully to explain the significance of the cross to her.

“She took me aside and she said, ‘You have to take it off,’ ” McLeod told KSTU. “She gave me a disinfection wipe — whatever they are called — and she made me wipe it off.”

After learning what happened, the school's principal reportedly called McLeod's parents to alert them. The teacher sent home a written apology, as well.

“I asked her if she read the Constitution with the First Amendment, and she said, no,” Karen Fisher, the boy's grandmother, said.

Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District, told KSTU there would be an investigation into the incident and that the unnamed teacher could face some sort of discipline.

“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.' "

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