Praying Five-Year-Old Targeted by School Lunchroom Supervisor

By:  Dave Bohon
04/02/2014
       
Praying Five-Year-Old Targeted by School Lunchroom Supervisor

A Florida school district is being challenged after a school lunchroom supervisor prevented a five-year-old from praying over her meal.

The Liberty Institute has come to the defense of a five-year-old Florida student who was scolded by a school lunchroom supervisor and prevented from praying over her noon meal. The conservative legal advocacy group sent a strongly worded letter to officials at the Seminole County School District and Carillon Elementary School in Oviedo, Florida, on behalf of Marcos Perez, who removed his five-year-old daughter from the school after she was accosted by the lunchroom supervisor and told to stop praying over her lunch.

According to Jeremiah Dys, senior counsel at Liberty Institute, on March 10, as the kindergartener was bowing her head in prayer for her lunch at school, the lunchroom supervisor approached her and told her to stop. When the youngster protested, “But it's good to pray,” the adult responded that “it is not good.”

When the girl once again attempted to pray over her lunch, related Dys, “she was again restrained from bowing her head, folding her hands, and silently saying grace.”

The girl's father said that the disturbing incident prompted him and his wife to pull their daughter from the school and teach her at home. “Mainly because of this incident, we have exercised our option as parents to teach our daughter at home,” said Marcos Perez. “We live in a very good school district, but we cannot, in good conscience, send our daughter to a school where her religious liberty has been compromised.”

The incident also launched the Liberty Institute into action, with Dys shooting off a letter to school officials demanding that the district “apologize to the Perezes and the community as well as take steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

“Of course, students can pray at school!” said Dys in a prepared statement, noting that the Supreme Court ruled over 50 years ago that students do not sacrifice their constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech or expression when they enter the classroom.

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