Elementary student forced to wipe ashes cross off forehead

EducationNews“More than 100” pupils hospitalised after suffering burned foreheads during Ash Wednesday assembly Ben Gelblum

EducationNews“More than 100” pupils hospitalised after suffering burned foreheads during Ash Wednesday assembly Ben Gelblum

"No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead", Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams said.

During the service, William, like legions of faithful all over the world, had an ash cross placed on his forehead to mark the beginning of Lent, a season of prayer and penance that Christians observe ahead of Easter.

Fisher, the boy's grandmother, said Patterson asked if she could reapply the ashes herself. However, she ordered him to remove it.

"People are going to look at you like you've got dirt on your head", she explained to him, "and that's OK".

Two pupils were hospitalised and scores more were burned after a priest marked crosses on assembly-goers' foreheads as part of an Ash Wednesday ceremony at a top-performing school.

A mum said: "A load of the kids had to go home after they got burned".

The school said the ash was provided by a priest from the Diocese of Birmingham, which sourced it from a company in Aldridge. The nine-year-old had come to his school after having attended Catholic mass when his teacher, Moana Patterson, called his ash marking "inappropriate" and proceeded to give him a hand wipe to clean it off in front of the class.

The school said it was dismayed by the incident, which affected 73 students, 16 teachers and the chairman of the governors, all of whom were advised to seek further medical attention. "This is who we are".

St Augustine’s Catholic High School – Credit;swns
St Augustine’s Catholic High School – Credit;swns

At least two children from St Augustine's Catholic High School were taken to hospital following the religious event which had disastrous results.

Later that day, the fourth grader's grandmother, Karen Fisher, received a phone call from the school's principal informing her of the incident.

'I am absolutely furious.' She said describing the incident.

"He went to see the school's psychologist crying", Fisher said. "The actions were unacceptable", according to a statement Friday to CNN.

William McLeod was the only student in his class with the ash cross and several of his classmates asked him what it was.

The district added that it called its director of educational equity, who is also an ordained Catholic deacon. He reapplied the ash cross to Williams' forehead that afternoon. Some of the teachers said it did as well. Fisher told Fox 13 that she was "pretty upset" about what had happened to her grandson.

Fisher, who lives with William, said Patterson gave a handwritten note and candy bar to William as an apology.

"When the teacher saw it, she came over and said, "What is that, '" William said". "She's a great teacher, and I don't want her to lose her job".

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