Taunton second-grader sent home over drawing of Jesus: Father angered by forced psychological evaluation of boy, 8
A Maxham Elementary student was suspended from school for drawing what he says depicts Jesus on the cross. His name was removed from the drawing based on the family’s wish to protect the boy.
A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a stick-figure picture of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing. The image in question depicted a crucified Jesus with Xs covering his eyes to signify that he had died on the cross. The boy wrote his name above the cross.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” the incredulous father said.
He requested that his name and his son’s name be withheld from publication to protect the boy.
The student drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro. He made the drawing in class after his teacher asked the children to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas, the father 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,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.
Saunders is working with the boy’s parents after a mutual acquaintance referred them to her.
“When I got that call, I was so appalled that I had to do something,” Saunders said.
“They weren’t looking at the fact that this is an 8-year-old child with special needs,” she added. “They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation.”
The school, in fact, required the evaluation before the boy could return, the father said.
Maxham School principal Rebecca Couet referred all questions on the matter to the superintendent’s office.
Superintendent Julie Hackett said district policy prevents her from discussing a “confidential matter regarding a student.”
“Generally speaking, we have safety protocols in place,” Hackett said. “If a situation warrants it, we ask for outside safety evaluations if we have particular concerns about a child’s safety. We followed all the protocols in our system.”
Hackett refused to specifically discuss the student’s drawing or the school’s reaction to it.
The father was flabbergasted when he learned his son had to undergo an evaluation.
“When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing,” he said.
The man said his son, who gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, has never shown any tendency toward violence.
“He’s never been suspended,” he said. “He’s 8 years old. They overreacted.”
The boy made the drawing and was sent home from school on Dec. 2. He went for the psychological evaluation — at his parents’ expense — the next day and was cleared to return to school the following Monday after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others.
The boy, however, was traumatized by the incident, which made going back to school very difficult, the father said. School administrators have approved the father’s request to have the boy transferred to another elementary school in the district.
This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.
The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.