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Fourth-grader William McLeod arrived at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, on Wednesday morning looking a bit different than all the other students in his class.

You see, William is Catholic. And he — like countless other Catholics and Christians around the world — had an ash cross on his forehead in observance of Ash Wednesday.

Image source: KSTU-TV video screenshot

“A lot of students asked me what it is,” he recalled to KSTU-TV. “I was like, ‘I’m Catholic. It’s the first day of Lent. It’s Ash Wednesday.'”

No ash cross for you

William told the station his teacher also seemed perplexed, asking “What is that?”

Despite his explanation, William noted to KSTU that his teacher took him aside and told him the cross was “inappropriate” and to “go take it off.”

With that he told the station that “she gave me a disinfection wipe — whatever they are called — and she made me wipe it off.”

“I felt, like, really bad,” William recalled to KSTU, adding that the incident happened “in front of all my friends.”

Grandmother schools the teacher

If you’re doubting the teacher didn’t know what the cross on William’s forehead stood for, get a load of what his grandmother detailed to the station about her phone call with the teacher.

“I was pretty upset,” Karen Fisher, William’s grandmother, told KSTU, adding that, “I asked her if she read the Constitution with the First Amendment, and she said, ‘no’ and ‘oh.'”

Image source: KSTU-TV video screenshot

What did the school district have to say?

The Davis School District apologized about the incident and told the station it wasn’t acceptable and that students of all faiths should feel welcomed.

“Why that even came up, I have no idea,” district spokesperson Chris Williams told KSTU. “When a student comes in to school with ashes on their forehead, it’s not something we say, ‘Please take off.'”

Happier outcome

William’s teacher — who may face disciplinary action — gave him some candy and a handwritten apology note in the hopes the pair can “move forward from this,” the station said.

Image source: KSTU-TV video screenshot

In addition, KSTU said an ordained deacon who works at the district put another cross on William’s forehead with his family’s permission.

“I hope it helps somebody,” his grandmother noted to the station, “and I hope it never happens again.”

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