Utah 4th grade teacher, Moana Patterson apologizes for making catholic student, William McLeod remove Ash Wednesday cross from forehead. Mormon is predominant religion in the state.
A fourth grade Utah teacher on administrative leave for making a nine-year-old Catholic student wash the Ash Wednesday cross off his forehead, has apologized for the incident, characterizing it as a ‘misunderstanding’.
Moana Patterson, who teaches at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, said Monday that she thought the ash cross was just dirt, not a religious symbol, when she gave her nine-year-old pupil, William McLeod a wet wipe and demanded he clean it off.
William countered telling via Fox 13 having explaining to his teacher multiple times the black mark on his forehead was for a religious observance.
Patterson denied knowing that on Monday- six days following the ‘misunderstanding’.
‘My entire life has been centered around respecting diversity,’ Patterson said during a press conference at Utah state capitol in Salt Lake City where she stood surrounded by supportive parents and students holding signs.
‘I would never intentionally disrespect any religion or any sacred symbol.’
Moana Patterson is joined by many of her students and parents. pic.twitter.com/Cs3ImkoVHg
— John Franchi (@JFRANCHIREPORTS) March 11, 2019
Was Moana Patterson Utah 4th grade teacher trying to impose her religious views?
Of note, Utah is a predominantly Mormon state, with Members of the affiliated Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making up about two-thirds of the population.
Mormons don’t celebrate Ash Wednesday.
Responding to the ‘faux pas’, Republican state Sen. Todd Weiler, who represent the Bountiful region, said the incident is ‘what happens when people aren’t exposed to other cultures or religions’.
‘It’s not always necessarily mean spirited,’ Weiler reiterated.
The boy’s grandmother, Karen Fisher, said she doesn’t want Patterson fired, but suggested she didn’t completely believe the teacher’s explanation for her actions.
‘It’s kind of hard to swallow, a little, for me,’ Fisher said. ‘There needs to be training for all religions, all beliefs.’
Following complaints, the Davis School District opened an investigation into Patterson’s action and placed her on paid administrative leave.
William said he later received candy and a handwritten note from his teacher that read: ‘William, I am so sorry. I hope we can move things from here.’
An estimated 330,000 Catholics live in Utah, making up about 10 percent of the state’s population, according to Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese spokeswoman Jean Hill.
Tiffany Ivan Spence, who said she’s a parent of one of William’s classmates, said she also thought the cross on the boy’s forehead was dirt. She said it was a misunderstanding and not an attack against religion.
‘He came into my home and to me it looked just like a smudge,’ Ivan Spence said. ‘When I first saw Will, my instinct was to also hand him a wipe. It would have been common sense for any person who cares about children to help them if they didn’t know they had that on their head.’
Williams said there are no updates about the district’s ongoing investigation into the incident – while others wonder if the teacher had sought to enforce her religious views on the student….and employed plausible deniability since been taken to task.
And then there was this social media post that caught this author’s attention, see what you think?
Moana Patterson, who teaches fourth-grade at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, told reporters on Monday that she didn’t know the ash cross was a religious symbol. She’s lying with a straight face. This is what’s teaching your children. Your fired! Game over!
— Touche’ (@pfunk62951102) March 12, 2019