The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Child sent home from school for drawing crucifix

From the National Caholic Register comes this inspiring story of our educational system in action:

According to WCBV-TV, a Catholic second-grade student at Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, Mass., was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after he drew a stick figure of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Chester Johnson, the boy’s father, said that he received a telephone call on Dec. 2 from the school telling him that his son had created a “violent drawing depicting a crucified Jesus with X’s covering his eyes.”

“He meant no harm,” said Johnson. “He believes in Jesus.”


The 8-year-old student drew the picture two weeks ago shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Mass.

The school released a public statement about the incident saying that the child was not suspended and that the drawing that has appeared in the media is not the same drawing that was discovered by the teacher.

“The administration acted in accordance with the school department’s well-established protocol,” says the statement. “This protocol is centered upon the student’s care, well-being and educational success.”

The boy was cleared to return to school the next week after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others.

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posted December 16, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Greetings, Deacon!
The picture in the NCR article is different than the one that other media outlets are using.
As you can see in this picture, the student’s name is in the place where one would normally expect to see the name of Jesus. It was this, according to the school, that caused them to check into the matter.
In a closer look at the picture in the NCR, it almost looks like the name of the boy has been edited out…with poor airbrushing. Does anyone else notice that?

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Mike L

posted December 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm

This story has changed with time and I suspect that the news has put a slant on it that will sell the most newspapers. The first reports were that the child had drawn himself crucified, which might well trigger an alert teacher to wonder if the child was calling out for help.
The father’s story is quite different from what the school is saying. I also wonder about the father’s claim that the child was impressed by the figures he saw at the Church they visited. If the child is being raised Catholic I would think that he had seen crucifixes many times.
I also wonder that the father is claiming that the school owes him a “small lump sum” for his pain and suffering.
I don’t have enough facts to know what is really going on, and I don’t ever trust the news. But the article as posted above makes me very suspicious that it was written to sell newspapers, not to tell us the truth.

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posted December 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm

“I don’t have enough facts to know what is really going on, and I don’t ever trust the news. But the article as posted above makes me very suspicious that it was written to sell newspapers, not to tell us the truth.”
And I fear that, like so many other sensational pieces of news, interest will fade once the hype value is gone, and the truth (if there is such a beast here) will never really see the light of day.

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posted December 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Well, well, well…who comes riding to the rescue of this poor father and his put upon son? None other than the Rutherford Institute.
“Later Wednesday, a civil liberties organization representing the family released a statement, calling the incident in which 8-year-old Maxham Elementary School second-grader Jalen Cromwell’s drawing was deemed inappropriate an “overreaction by school officials.”
The boy’s father, Chester Johnson, stayed inside his Oak Street apartment Wednesday, deferring all media inquiries to a spokesperson at the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit international civil liberties legal group based in Charlottesville, Va. The group specializes in defending constitutional and religious rights.
In a news release, Rutherford’s President, John Whitehead, asserted the student “was allegedly forced by school officials to undergo psychological evaluations. … The psychological damage to this family is appalling.””
I can see why they told the father to shut up. Each time he opened his mouth a different story came out.
“But the more the father – who at first hid behind a veil of anonymity – talks, the sketchier the story sounds. Because it’s a story that’s just too good to be true.
Why would a teacher ask students to draw Christmas pictures when everything in public schools today is about “the holidays?” Why did the father wait two weeks before telling his story? Why would the school system suspend a special needs student for simply drawing a crucifix?
The father backs off from the statement about paying for the evaluation. Details change. In one TV interview, he even plays the race card, implying that the school system suspected abuse because the family is African American.”
Well, now we will see the feeding frenzy of the victimization cult of the right, as they portray this as religious persecution of a child by the mean, old public school. God and country will be paraded in full dress review for this one, no doubt.
Thank God we have rational, level headed people who will look into the story first before spamming it all over their blog as some sort of miscarriage of justice by a school.
Too damn bad none of the blog at Beliefnet.

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