Editor’s Note: The Associated Press published an update to this story late last night. You will find the updated paragraphs below the original post.
I think we’re going to start a new feature called “What was that teacher thinking?” (It can apply to parents too. It’s a very versatile heading. ) Here’s the first entry:
“An 8-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after he was asked to make a Christmas drawing and came up with what appeared to be a stick figure of Jesus on a cross, the child’s father said Tuesday.”
“Chester Johnson told WBZ-TV that his son made the drawing on Dec. 2 after his second-grade teacher asked children to sketch something that reminded them of the holiday.”
“Johnson said the teacher became upset when his son said he drew himself on the cross. Johnson, who is black, told WBZ he suspects racism is involved. He said he thinks the school overreacted and wants an apology.”
“Johnson told the Taunton Daily Gazette, which first reported the story on Tuesday, that his son gets specialized reading and speech instruction and has never been violent in school.”
“An educational consultant working with the Johnson family said the teacher was also alarmed when the boy drew Xs for Jesus’ eyes.”
“A call to Johnson was not immediately returned.”
“The boy was cleared to return to school on Dec. 7 after the evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others. But his father said the boy was traumatized by the incident and the school district has approved the family’s request to have the child transferred to another school.”
The father suspects it was racism, but it seems to me more focused on religion.
I feel like we’re missing something from this story. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.
I work in the school classroom and at our church a lot and I have to say I don’t think I would have thought a single thing about a child drawing a crucifix, especially when asked to draw about a Christian holiday. I guess the Xs for the eyes could be a little odd but I don’t think I would send a kid home and order a psychological evaluation. That seems extreme.
Here’s more information on the story. This is the school’s version of what happened from The Associated Press:
TAUNTON, Mass. — A Massachusetts school district on Tuesday night denied a father’s claims that his son was suspended for drawing a stick figure of Jesus on a cross.
The Taunton School District said in a written statement that the second-grade student was never suspended over the sketch and that a drawing circulated to reporters by the boy’s father, Chester Johnson, is not the same one that was discovered by the teacher.
The district also denied that the boy and his classmates had been assigned to draw something that reminded them of Christmas or any other religious holiday.
“This incident occurred nearly two weeks ago, it was handled appropriately, and the school staff and family had been working together in a cooperative and positive manner,” the district said in a statement posted on its Web site.
School officials did not specify any action they took, but said they followed “well-established protocol,” including reviewing the child’s records and consulting with school psychologists.
“It is unfortunate that the actions of our district staff have been classified as “religious” in nature when, in fact, they were based solely on the wellbeing of the student,” the district’s statement said.
What do you think of this incident? Who do you believe — fairly different stories?
Was the teacher right to be alarmed at the drawing of the crucifixion? Would the Xs for eyes freak you out? Should the child have been sent home? Should a psychological evaluation been ordered? Should the teacher and school have to apologize?