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.”