NEWS

School says Jesus-drawing incident was reported wrongly

Staff reports

Schools Superintendent Julie Hackett issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying that action over a Maxham Elementary School student’s drawing of Jesus “was handled appropriately” by school officials.

In a three-page statement that was passed out at the City Council meeting Tuesday night – but not submitted to the Taunton Daily Gazette – Hackett stated that a story reporting the incident “was totally inaccurate.”

Hackett said the 8-year-old second-grader was never suspended, that the incident occurred two weeks ago and that “school staff and family had been working together in a cooperative and positive manner.”

The boy’s father, Chester Johnson, told the Gazette on Tuesday that he had been trying to reach Hackett for the past two weeks, and she only contacted him Tuesday after the story was reported.

In the statement, Hackett said, “The drawing published in various media outlets is not the same drawing that was discovered by the teacher. It has not been established whether the drawing was actually completed in school. Contrary to what was reported, there was no request or assignment by the teacher for students to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas or any religious holiday.”

Hackett went on to state that the school administration “acted in accordance with the school department’s well-established protocol.”

“This protocol is centered upon the student’s care, well-being and educational success. The protocol includes a review of the student’s records, discussions with staff, central administration, school psychologists and other community resources. Decisions were made after the protocol had been completed, including a consultation with a veteran staff member with a background in clinical psychology and a Ph.D.”

Hackett also stated that the district’s actions have been classified as “religious” in nature. She said the actions were based “solely on the student’s well-being.”

“In the school district, it is our goal to provide the opportunity for all students to be well-rounded, and it is our responsibility to help them attain their social, emotional and academic goals regardless of their religious affiliation.”

Taunton Daily Gazette