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An 8-year-old boy has been suspended from school and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation after he drew a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross, his father claims.

A teacher at Lowell Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, Mass., allegedly said the second-grade student created a violent drawing, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.

The boy’s picture portrayed a crucified Jesus with Xs over his eyes to indicate that he had died on the cross.

The child’s father, outraged at the school’s action, asked to remain anonymous to protect his son. He said his boy drew the picture after returning from a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat.

He said when the teacher asked students to draw something that reminded them of Christmas on Dec. 2, the boy recalled his trip and created a portrait of Christ on the cross.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” he told the newspaper.

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Associated Advocacy Center educational consultant Toni Saunders said, “I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent.”

The father said the following is the drawing in question:


Boy’s drawing depicts Jesus on the cross (photo: Taunton Daily Gazette)

Saunders said the boy has special needs, and the school reacted inappropriately.

“They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation,” she said.

But the boy’s father told the newspaper the school required an evaluation – at the parents’ expense – before the student would be allowed to return.

“When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing,” he said.

However, the school district claims the boy was never suspended.

“This incident occurred nearly two weeks ago,” said a statement from the district. “It was handled appropriately, and the school staff and family had been working together in a cooperative and positive manner.”

The district also claims the picture published above is not the same drawing that was discovered by the teacher and that the teacher did not assign the students to sketch a picture that reminded them of Christmas.

The father stands by his story. He said his son, who receives special reading and speech instruction, has never shown a propensity toward violence.

“He’s never been suspended,” he said. “He’s 8 years old. They overreacted.”

The boy returned to school on Dec. 7, but he said his son has been traumatized and will be transferred to another school in the district.

The district said its actions were not religious in nature and were based solely on the wellbeing of the student.

“At this time of year, Christmas is one of many religious and secular holidays,” the statement said. “Taunton, known as the Christmas City, takes pride as a community in celebrating this Christian holiday together with Hanukah [sic], Kwanzaa and many others.”

Bloggers have overwhelmingly demanded that the teacher be fired. They posted the following responses:

  • The Taunton School District needs to be examined. How could a teacher’s concern get this far? Let’s not forget that several administrators had to agree with the teacher’s reaction in order to have the child sent home and request exam. What do they have to say for themselves?
  • This was not a mistake. It is an intentional anti-Christ slap in the face at Christmas. If something like this was done to a child of any other minority religion the teacher would be fired.
  • I hope the parents consider transferring the child to a parochial school where his religious understanding will be more sensitively recognized. Shame on the school administrators.
  • I would like to start a petition to suspend this teacher immediately pending a full investigation into whether or not she should be terminated. Some parents try very hard to instill the values of religion in their children, and for this teacher to tell this student he did something wrong is disgusting. If my kids were in her class, I would pull them out and demand a new teacher or a change of schools.
  • I’m a liberal, nonreligious individual and even I think this is totally ridiculous! Since Christmas is a religious holiday, the teachers should have expected some religious imagery from little kids!
  • How does one make the crucifixion nonviolent?
  • Teacher needs a lesson in church. Jesus Christ’s death was violent.
  • The teacher is the one with the issues; this qualifies as abuse.
  • I believe that this teacher needs to be removed from teaching put in a mental institution. This teacher is mentally disturbed and a psycho and danger to society.
  • This teacher needs to be fired! She traumatized an 8-year-old, Fire her! No discussion necessary!

Concerned individuals may e-mail Maxham Elementary School or call Principal Rebecca Couet at (508) 821-1265, or fax to (508) 821-1274. The Taunton Public Schools district office may be reached by calling (508) 821-1100 or e-mailing Superintendent Julie Hackett.


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