CEDAR LAKE, Ind. – The school superintendent denied Wednesday that his district was discriminating against a high school freshman for not allowing her to wear a pagan symbol on her cheek to celebrate a religious holiday.
Hanover Community School Superintendent Michael Livovich Jr. said any student who wore a cross on their face to celebrate their Christianity or the Star of David to celebrate being Jewish who refused to take it off also would have been sent home.
"We would never deny a child their religious expression," he said. "What she has become, however, is a distraction."
The student, Sky Holeman, was sent home for a second day on Wednesday, this time for having more than one pentagram on her face, Livovich said.
Andy Pecenke of Cedar Lake wants an apology from the school district for how it has treated his daughter. He said his 16-year-old has been a practicing pagan for three to four years. Pecenke said he, his wife, Sharene Pecenke, also are pagans.
"I've been a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids for 13 years," Andy Pecenke said.
He said that May 1 celebrations are a centuries-old tradition.
Pecenke said he was upset because the school district doesn't send students home for having ashes on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday.
Livovich said that was different, however, because it is part of a person's faith. Livovich said he had done some research and found no indication that wearing a pentagram on the face is a part of a person's faith.
"If it was a part of her faith that everyone of her faith does this on May Day, then I would say our apologies to the child and the parent," he said. "But that isn't the case here."