An Oviedo, Florida family has pulled their 5-year old out of kindergarten after their daughter claimed her teacher stopped her from praying at lunch.
The Carillon Elementary School student, whose name is not being released, told her parents that when she bowed her head to pray, her teacher stopped her. "My lunch teacher told me that, when I was about to say something, she said, 'You're not allowed to pray.'" The girl responded to the teacher: "It's good to pray," to which the teacher allegedly responded, "It's not good."
School officials report that Principal AnaLynn Jones spoke to the cafeteria staff present during that time, and they do not remember interacting with the student. The identity of the staff member allegedly involved has not been given.
The incident allegedly occurred the week of March 10th, but the school claims that the parents did not contact them until last week-- after the parents submitted a YouTube video in which the child recounts the occurrence.
The video, uploaded on March 25th by the girl's father, Marcos Perez, has received over 80,000 views.
The child's parents Marcos Perez writes in the video description: "My wife and I were shocked when our 5-year-old daughter began to tell us that someone on staff at her school saw her praying - told her to stop - and said "it is not good". This is Kindergarten. She was praying to herself for her food, following the biblical values we are working hard to instill in our children. We are so proud of our little princess and as you can see - we continue to affirm her that prayer IS GOOD and that NO ONE can tell her she can't pray. No doubt we will homeschool going forward.
"We live in the United States of America - the land of the free, yet our traditional values and religious freedoms are under assault. This is just a small example."
However, Seminole County Schools Communications Officer Michael Lawrence told an Orlando news station: "The situation as stated by the parent has not occurred according to the school's investigation...We're dealing with very young children here so there's quite a bit of an opportunity for miscommunication to occur. The timing and the issues were very odd considering that the first thing that happened was that a video was done. It was on YouTube."
Mr. Perez claims that he sent the district several emails before uploading the video. Lawrence also insisted that there is no policy against student prayer: "If a student wishes to pray at lunch to herself we do not have a policy against that."
In a four-page letter addressed to the Seminole County School Board and Carillon's Principal, the family's attorney, Jeremiah Dys wrote, "This is a violation of the federal law and we expect the school district to apologize to the Perezes and the community as well as take steps to ensure this does not happen again." Dys gave the Board until April 7th to issue a public apology and "announce the steps it is taking to ensure this does not happen in the future" to "avoid any enforcement actions."
The Orlando Sentinel noted that Mr. Perez is Vice President of Sales at Charisma House, a Christian book publisher in Florida. Charisma House is currently promoting Fox News host Todd Starnes' book, "God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Starnes also covered the Perez's story on Fox News Radio.
The Perez family has decided to homeschool their daughter following the incident.
Source: Yahoo News