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Kindergartner Praying At Lunch Leads To Lawsuit

Kindergartner praying girl

The parents of a kindergartner at an Oviedo school are suing for the distress caused to their daughter when she was allegedly told not to pray by a teacher while at lunch.

According to the 5-year-old girl, Gabriella Perez, she claims that she was told to stop praying by one of the Kindergarten teachers on duty when she sat down to lunch, a claim that the Seminole County Public Schools officials say has no basis.

Marcos Perez, Gabriella’s father, posted a video on YouTube early last week in which his daughter talks, with some conviction, about the incident: “The lunch teacher said, ‘You’re not allowed to pray. I said, ‘It’s good to pray. She said, ‘It’s not good,” Gabriella said in the short video.

But when Analynn Jones, the principal of the kindergarten, was asked about the incident in the cafeteria during the week of March 10, he had no recollection of it at all, and said that none of his staff members remembers it happening.

Kathy Perez, Gabriella’s mother, said that she firmly believes her daughter is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth: “She wanted to pray, but she’s a rule-follower. I told her she did the right thing. I don’t doubt for a minute that my daughter is telling the truth.”

But again, the principal of the school pointed out that there is no policy in place to forbid children from praying while at kindergarten: “We don’t have a policy against student prayer at all,” he said.

As a result of the school’s position, the Perez family are taking the case to court and filing a lawsuit against the relevant authorities. The family’s lawyer, Jeremiah Dys, spoke to the press about the kindergartner praying incident: “The principal has pretty much dismissed this. Saying a 5-year-old cannot pray over her chicken nuggets and mac-and-cheese isn’t in line with the Constitution.”

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32 Responses to “Kindergartner Praying At Lunch Leads To Lawsuit”

  1. Sandra Renee Adams

    Good for the parents! That's her right and her choice to pray.

  2. Paula Qualls Gurley

    There is absolutely no proof of what this child is saying. I know that often what my kids told me was their interpretation…………… not always the absolute truth and very seldom the whole truth. I don't see where these parents will have any grounds to win a lawsuit……but the school will have to spend money of a lawyer. I hope these parents are paying their own attorney fees. I would be all for this kid, but I need some kind of proof.

  3. Maleka Turner Giovinco

    a 5 yr old can and will say anything. she may have forgotten (if parents are super religious) and needs to blame it on someone. on the other hand; if the child wants to bless her food..let her. seems like parents are itching to sue to get financial gain. need more proof of the scenario.

  4. KeyannaYfrancisco Jesus

    Good post. I feel like it is important to stand up for your rights and religious beliefs, but suing is taking it too far. It's just going to be a financial burden on the school district that will cause school programs and
    Activities to be dropped due to the lack of funding. The teacher should be held responsible… not the school. It also sounds like the parents are having the kid repeat the story as if it were a story book… maybe fabricating it a bit? I think the parents are after more then what they lead on… a child may be hurt by words, but with the proper education can be re-informed. She is not traumatized. If everyone were to Sue over beliefs and religion then the world would be chaotic. Teach your children to believe what they want and not to be sensitive over people who carelessly disagree.

  5. Marie Lanza

    The way this country and these schools are acting I believe her

  6. Paula Qualls Gurley

    Marie Lanza You think kids and families act any better? Yes, some schools are doing outrageous things………….. and so are people who think they have something to gain. Like I said……….they are going to need some kind of proof. Was anyone sitting by the child when this happened? If not……..do they always segregate her at meal time? ………..

  7. Betty McCormick Hazel

    Teachers are turning out to be Nazis. School system cannot take care of bullies but the peace makers must be punished. Keep up the prayer's sweetheart God is listening.

  8. Renee S Haines

    Proof is that usually kids do not lie unless they will get in trouble. This little girl was questioning why it was wrong to pray in school, where is the lie??

  9. Kathleen Mcmillion

    Her father is currently a vice president of sales at Charisma House, a Christian book publisher. Kind of ironic, don't you think? If they can't find any witnesses to corroborate her story, then the case will be thrown out. It would be interesting for them to provide evidence of this distress.

  10. Ann Williams

    See, that's a violation to me. The school wasn't sponsoring it, it was her personal thing. That to me should be allowed. The school itself should be neutral and the personal behavior of students, as long as it is not disruptive then fine. And I'm an atheist.

  11. Richard Nicoletti

    Jodi, why don't you shut that big trap of yours.

  12. Ann Williams

    Umm kids are not saints, and do not develop a conscience until they are in their teens. They understand rules, but they will lie even if they are afraid of the consequences of lying. Say for example another kid put her up to this, or the teacher punished her or did something she didn't like. That might make her lie. She knows her parents are very religious – understands this to a point, that they believe other people are constantly trying to take away their ability to have their faith. So she goes in her head bad = telling me not to pray. And so she lies. For whatever reason. She doesn't understand the scope of what she is doing though and how far it will go, and keeps lying because if she told the truth, then she would be punished. So – yeah, saying that kids don't lie is just dumb. Because they do. Or they misunderstand things, or end up telling half-truths because they don't see things the same way adults do.

    Proof: real life experience. I lied a few times and made things up and then they got out of control and I got found out. Saying that kids don't lie is just ridiculous and only proves that you don't have kids or don't remember being one.

  13. Brenda Gilbert

    I think you are all missing the point our rights and beliefs are slowly being taken and you worry about wether the child is being truthful or not. Remember the woman who protested and succeeded in getting this ridiculous law passed, she was found dead. That is what is wrong with this world it doesn't understand that all people race, color or creed should not have their religious or political beliefs taken from them. And perhaps if the children were taught that they can have faith in their beliefs they wouldn't be so lost.

  14. Kirk Jensen

    The acceptance of the 1% L.G.B.T. Atheists an army of millions to destroy everything held dear is the fundamental change. Sodom Gomorrah does not end well.

  15. Linda Thompson

    Well if the imports in this country are allowed to pray 5 times a day, and have prayer rooms in the schools than why shouldn't this child be able to pray in school? Our country doesn't care about our own, they don't want to offend the imports.

  16. Deborah Alaine Vargas

    So, a kindergartner's parents are now suing because she was told not to pray at lunch. According to the full story that I read before, the student was praying loudly instead of quietly to herself which may have offended others at the table. While I do not side either way, I do believe it is a little far fetched to use this as an excuse for a lawsuit (dollar signs in the eyes rather than solidarity on religious good). My approach would have been to take it to the school board, but if there was no video of the incident it would be a 5 year old's testimony versus a bunch of other 5 year old's (not reliable) and a teacher. My answer would have been to tell my daughter to make sure not to offend others and pray quietly to herself because God even hears silence.

  17. Diana Messer

    Why are the parents suing over one supposed incident. Now, if they had told her day after day and sent notes home or had dismissed this child from school then there is a law suit, but for them to say that she was told once by a teacher that she had to stop praying it sounds a little bit like over reaction to me. Going on the word of a five year old alone is not proof enough. I am an Atheist and I do not want to see forced prayer or see religion forced on anyone, but I also don't want those who believe to be forced to stop either. Live and let live. I just wonder what the motivation is behind the law suit is.

  18. Leon Creed

    There is absolutely no proof of the fact that what this child is saying is false. "I know that often what kids told me was their interpretation…………… NOT ALWAYS the absolute truth and VERY SELDOM the whole truth", then there is a chance that it is true, isn't it? The argument goes both ways, if there is no proof that it is true then can't one argue that there is no proof that it is false?

    The fact is that there is a possibility that this is true. And while ignoring the somewhat biased opinion of the family lawyer, the fact here is no form of mediation has been attempted, the principal dismissed it with only a "slight warning" given to the school staff (Without any proof that it has actually been done). The easiest way is to let the child publicly point out the alleged perpetrator and have the perpetrator defend herself.

  19. Pat Brock Blanco

    The father Marcos Perez is VP of Sales for a Christian publishing company, that is currently promoting a book by Todd Starnes. The book is about how Christians and their values are under attack. Todd Starnes broke the story of this school prayer incident on his radio show, without mentioning his own relationship to Marcos Perez and the publishing company where he works.

    Just on the basis of that "coincidence", coupled with the parents' aggressive, publicity-seeking, handling of the situation, I would suspect collusion and lies. But also, those trained in NLP can see that the child is making up a good portion of what she is saying. There is no way to know whether she's trying to be helpful to her father's work, or following her father's instructions, but it appears she is making it up and he is shamelessly using this situation to create publicity for the book he is promoting.

    The whole situation stinks to high heaven, and the bigger shame is that those who seek to divide the populace and set one group against another are using this to inflame Christians and make them feel they're under attack, so they will buy Starnes' book. Follow the money. Disgusting!

  20. Pat Brock Blanco

    Ah, but you are a reasonable person. One who isn't out to take advantage of this situation to sell books for the publishing company where you are VP of Sales. The book written by the radio personality who broke the story of your daughter's persecution. The book about how Christians are under attack.

  21. Pat Brock Blanco

    Children lie to please their parents. Especially their father who is VP of Sales at a Christian Publishing company that is currently promoting a book about how Christians are under attack for their values. The father who was interviewed on a radio show by the book's author, who broke the story of the little girl's persecution for praying. Personally, I smell a rat, and I'm praying for this little girl.

  22. Leon Creed

    Pat Brock Blanco If the school has not given the chance for the child to point out the alleged "lunch lady" then the same "coincidence" is making the school stinks to high heaven as well.

    Arguments can go both ways because of lack of information or too much information from one side. Those seeking the stinks will find it, be it the school or the child and her family.

  23. Pat Brock Blanco

    Leon Creed , as I understand it, it's the parents who have not given the chance for the child to point out the "lunch teacher". They pulled her from the school, which removes any opportunity the principal may have had to talk with her and get more information. Also, the parents' attorney stated that he had not been given the identity or description of the adult responsible. The father has stated that he doesn't expect anyone to step forward and take responsibility, but hopes that the negative publicity will make that person think before interfering with another student's right to pray. Too many coincidences. Doesn't pass the sniff test.

  24. Sara Rowe

    It's ironic that we are talking about an article that told the story of a little girl not allowed to pray over her lunch. Yet, in posting people are attacking each other and condemning them to hell for their religious view. I am not an Atheist, but I believe they are allowed to their religious view as well. I guess it's more of a case of… "Welcome to America, where you have the right to freedom of religion and speech as long as it's MY religion and what I want YOU to say."

  25. Jodi Rives Meier

    Sara Rowe And you notice the only condemners are the Jesusy folk, right? Just what we've come to expect from the modern day self-identified Christian. Well done.

  26. Sara Rowe

    Jodi Rives Meier I don't have to believe what someone is saying to respect their views. I believe in the existence of God, but it's perfectly okay for you to not believe. I do not judge or condemn, it is not my place.