Outrageous: Florida School Attacks 5-Year-old Told Prayer is “Wrong”

May 1, 2014


This week Liberty Institute continued to fight for 5-year-old Gabriella Perez, who said a school employee told her not to pray over her meal.  The school purportedly apologized to the family after Liberty Institute became involved, but now seems to be making unfounded public attacks on the girl and her family.

As a result, Liberty Institute sent the school another letter—this time demanding corrective action, and we are continuing our defense of the young girl and her family.

According to the Perez family, their 5-year-old daughter bowed her head over her food during lunch. A school employee instructed her to stop, and when the young girl told the school official, “But it’s good to pray,” she was told, “It is not good.”

After the story broke, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys and the Perez family met with school officials from Carillon Elementary School in Seminole County, Florida. During the meeting, Gabriella re-enacted the prayer and recounted the incident in its entirety to the principal and school attorney. At the request of the school, Gabriella also participated in a lineup, positively identifying the school employee.

That seemed to end the matter.  The school purportedly apologized and said it made sure all personnel understood that prayer at meals was a student’s legal right.  But on April 23, Michael Lawrence, Communications Director of Seminole County Schools made derogatory and defamatory statements to the media about Gabriella and her family.

On April 25, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys sent a letter to school officials, asking that they provide “an unequivocal, public apology for religious discrimination” against Gabriella Perez, and that they cease and desist from making “false, misleading, and malicious statements against the Perez family.”

Aggressive anti-faith groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU have created a culture of fear inside our nation’s schools – to the point that a 5-year-old child is told to stop praying over her school lunch!

To continue to help students across the country, we need your support! Please consider a gift now! Each gift is critical and every dollar donated multiplies in value thanks to the world-class attorneys that volunteer their time to the cause of religious freedom.

Also, if you know of any student, teacher or school district facing this type of hostility, please have them contact us at 972-941-4444, or through email at info@libertyinstitute.org.

If you have any questions on religious freedom in the school, please take a minute to check out our Student Bill of Rights – FAQ.

More stories from this week’s Liberty Watch:

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

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