Kindergartner Praying In School Told To Stop

By: Daryl Nelson - April 1, 2014

Was a kindergartner told that she couldn’t pray at lunch?

That’s what folks in Oviedo, Fla. are trying to figure out, after a 5-year-old by the name Gabriella Perez accused a staff member at Carillon Elementary School of stopping her from praying in the cafeteria.

After the alleged incident, Gabriella went home and told her parents about what happened, and right away her dad posted a YouTube video about it.

“The lunch teacher said, ‘You’re not allowed to pray,'” said the 5-year-old in the video. “I said, ‘It’s good to pray.’ She said, ‘It’s not good.'”

But here’s the thing: Staff members at the school say none of this ever happened and no one in the cafeteria recalls any of this taking place.

A spokesperson for the Seminole County School System believes Gabriella misunderstood what was told to her, and he’s confused why her father would make a video instead of coming to the school.

“The situation as stated by the parent has not occurred according to the school’s investigation,” said Michael Lawrence, who holds the title of communications officer.

“We’re dealing with very young children here, so there’s quite a bit of an opportunity for miscommunication to occur. The time and the issues were very odd considering that the first thing that happened was that a video was done, it was on YouTube.”

Since the video has gone viral a few advocacy groups, like the Liberty Institute of Plano, have reached out to the Perez family and are demanding a deeper investigation by the school, as well as an apology. But based on Carillon’s response so far, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon.

Kathy Perez, Gabriella’s mother, commended her daughter and said she believes every word she says about the alleged incident.

“She wanted to pray, but she’s a rule-follower,” said Kathy. “I told her she did the right thing. I don’t doubt for a minute that my daughter is telling the truth.”

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Daryl NelsonDaryl Nelson is a contributing writer for WebProNews. He's a music junky who loves everything from Outkast to The Doors, from Radiohead to Nas. Follow him on Twitter @D.Nelson32 and on Google +Daryl Nelson

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  • Kën Shrëk

    poor indoctrinated kid

    • Pam

      Were you the lunch lady????

  • ladyV

    it’s better than cursing the teachers out as many kids do. next.

  • Reign

    That’s what is wrong with the schools now… they took prayer out… none of this crap happened when the pledge and prayer was upheld at the beginning of each morning. Not so much the pledge either… The world is going to realize one way or the other that GOD is a must for ALL…

    • Jeremy Walters

      You’re wrong. Prayer is allowed in school, it just has to be student prayer. IF, and I don’t believe any of this really happened, but if this young lady were told by a licensed employee of the district, there would be some wrongdoing. Because student prayer is perfectly welcome in schools.

      • Reign

        I disagree, I went to Catholic schools all of my life and prayer was necessary every morning, plus a religion class. The prayer was read over the loud speaker in the AM. Are you telling me that this is what schools do today?! I think not; perhaps in Catholic schools but not public schools. IT wasn’t a choice or it wasn’t personalized by each student. What country do you live in because this is discussed in the Spiritual community on a regular basis. Perhaps your not Spiritual! Like I said, the ‘world’ is going to learn one way or the other, God is needed in our schools; for our children sake. I’m not voicing my opinion to offend another but the truth is the truth; and God’s Word is the truth. God is going to get the worlds attention.

    • mrbrockpeters

      Darn straight! GIT-ER-DUN!!!!

    • Logic

      If stupidity was a subject, you would earn an A

      • Reign

        Your mother!

    • chiefkurtz

      Yes, your almighty god, more powerful than anything, once again defeated by lowly humans.

  • Dhanh Mehti

    So, we allow other religious groups to pray in public because we do not want to anger the folks, but our own kids can not do so if, in their innocence, they feel the need to pray? Give them time and they will “straighten-up,” but don’t force them to do it or not do it, just because you feel awkward. obviously, the child is smarter, the child does not feel awkward. it feel and looks very natural to the child. Would you rather the kid throw tantrums, bullies, does drugs, or shoots at people?

  • Kristin Susanne Kruse

    So the child just made this whole thing up? I doubt that.

    • Logic

      Why would you doubt that? Have you ever met a child? They make stuff up all the time.

    • Sean Jones

      more likely that the parents made it up

  • Kevin Young

    maybe I don’t get the first amendment, but isn’t it ok as long as the teacher does not promote it??

    • Jeremy Walters

      Absolutely… and it does not create a disturbance in the learning environment (which an individual praying at lunch wouldn’t do).

  • Nicole Becker

    I am on the fence on this story. On one hand, the teacher was trying to do her job because religion is separate in public schools. Just like in a workplace, you can’t bring religion into public schools. However, the little girl was praying to herself not trying to get the other kids to pray, so they could have just let her be. I am not religious, personally, but her parents are obviously religious and taught that to her. If she wants to thank god for her food like she was taught to, as long as she’s not forcing other kids to do it with her, she should be allowed to.

    • Sean Jones

      or the story is complete BS created by the parents for a bogus lawsuit against the school

  • relateable

    That’s why our generatonis a disaster. They removed prayer out of schools and allowed satanism to dictate and ruin a whole generation of children. God reigns on heaven and earth. No devil in hell can stop the work of the father. They can implement all their secular plans all they want,but GOD will have the final say. I honor this little child for taking this bold stand fo Jesus Christ.. Keep on praying girl and send the devil and his fools to hell where they ALL belong.

    • Sean Jones

      yeah lets go back to the good ole days where God was everything, after all we all know that the Crusades and Inquisition were a picnic.

    • Nicole Becker

      That thinking is what you were TAUGHT. Religion is passed down. I am sure your parents think the same way as you do and said those same words to you when you were a child. The existence of God has not been and cannot be proven. That is truth and I am not a bad person for believing that. I don’t appreciate being called a “disaster,” “fool,” or “ruined.” Don’t judge others just because they have different beliefs than you. I know this comment was not directed toward me, but I take offense because I am not religious and I am part of this generation. The great thing about this generation is we are becoming more accepting and loving. There are some that still have your thinking though, unfortunately…

      • relateable

        Let me clarify my statements,by which you have some how misconstrued. You didn’t read ANYWHERE IN MY COMMENTS that I MENTIONED THE WORD RELIGION. You injected religion in your own demise.. I mentioned his holy name GOD,nowhere did I mention that word religion. I have a relationship with God. I don’t participate in religion. You have to differentiate between the two to know who God is!!
        .In addition to that,you too a general statement and personalized it. That’s your choice not mine. I may have hit a note there. Anything other that needs intervention and I can’t help you there except to introduce you to you to my Jesus.

        Just remember though don’t call on his name(Jesus) when you have an emergency,car accident,plane crash etc. Remember to trust in your own strength,due to your lack of unbelief,neither holding prayer vigils with candles, it won’t help with an unbelieving heart.. I refuse to waste my valuable time discussing anything about God other than that I know to be his true existence..Girl you don’t know what your are missing! Have a god life trusting in yourself…

  • mrbrockpeters

    Thanks a lot Obama, you’ve turned America into Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • jillrudisill

    Hard to believe a 5 year old would make this up or even think this up and at the same time it is hard to believe that a five year old would be praying at school unless it was taught at home and church to pray at all meal times. It is almost at the end of the school year I wonder if she has done this before at school or if this is the first time. If it is the first time why would she decide to do it now? Most children that are five think about play time and playing with toys and other children they normally do not practice religion at school especially if there is not a parent present to remind them or enforce it. Very unusual but if there is any truth to this I feel the child has a right to pray and I also feel the Pledge should be recited every morning before school starts. We said the pledge every morning before class when I went to school and it did not hurt me or others. Most of our rights as an American and a citizen of this country has been taken away from us. We have to think of other religions now and not offend anyone else is what we are told but I feel the people that come to this country should adapt to our ways and our English and our History not the other way around. You see a lot of women and men wearing their head gear and garb but if we say something then we are offending them what about us?

  • http://www.vasumurti.org VasuMurti

    In 1995, a joint statement of current law regarding religion in public schools was published by a variety of religious and civil liberties organizations. This statement served as the basis for U.S. Department of Education guidelines. Here are general rules concerning what school personnel and students may do:

    1. Students have the right to pray or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive. Students may read the Bible or other religious literature during their free time at school. 2. The history of religion and comparative religion are permissible school subjects so long as the approach is objective and serves a legitimate educational purpose. 3. Students may study the role of religion in the history of the United States. 4. Schools may discuss various religious groups‚ beliefs about the origin of life on Earth in comparative religion or social studies classes. 5. Students may express their religious beliefs in the forms of reports, homework and artwork so long as such expression meets the other criteria of the assignment. 6. Religious or anti-religious remarks made in the ordinary course of classroom discussion or student presentations and that are germane are permissible, but students do not have the right to give sermons to a captive audience. 7. Students have the right to distribute religious literature to their classmates, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. 8. Students have the right to speak to, and attempt to persuade their peers about religious topics just as they do with regard to political topics. 9. Student religious clubs in secondary schools must be permitted to meet and to have equal access to campus media to announce their meetings. 10. Public schools may teach objectively about religious holidays and may celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday. 11. Students may wear religious messages on clothing, just as they may wear religious attire, such as yarmulkes, crosses, crucifixes, and head scarves. 12. Students may be released for religious instruction off school premises.

  • Sam

    Of course the school isn’t going to admit to this it would mean a lawsuit and the parents most likely put the video up to get support for an actual investigation into the allegations to occur. this is how these things happen with the technology available now it makes sense. Children that young don’t just make up stories like that.

  • Katie

    I don’t think that she made it up, 5 year olds usually just wouldn’t think to create a story about the religious persecution they faced at lunch. If they lie its usually more imaginative and less believable like this girl who honestly believes thats what happened to her. I would believe that they she is leaving out parts, or misinterpreting something. The lunch lady maybe was saying that she couldn’t force her friends to do it, or encourage other kinders to join along, since it might be against their religion and they didn’t understand the meaning like this cutie did. What is most annoying to me is that the parents post this to youtube before they talk to the school. I’m not saying that their child is lying, but they would rather have a story, and fame than face the possibility that their 5 year old misinterpreted or that the lunch lady was just in some way.

  • James Winters

    I bet if it was a muslim they wouldn’t have said nothing. I think the little girl did great and to keep doing it and I would also let my voice be heard

  • Roxie

    The fact that the little girl is looking away from the camera most of the time she is talking makes me think she is lying and that she has been coached into what to say by her parents (she is looking towards her mother who is probably coaching her when the camera isn’t showing the mother). I feel sorry for the child that she is being raised by Bible Thumpers (and dishonest ones at that, who are clearly making up some BS story to get their daughter’s school in trouble) and hope that as this child gets older she can develop critical thought and is able to question her parents’ religious brainwashing.

  • http://onueroringourdreams.weebly.com Karen Berry

    Many religions say prayers before meals and children that have been raised doing this don’t need coaching to say prayers on their own. I’m offended being called a bible thumper. Just because I’m not Muslim, Buddhist, Satanist or other religions doesn’t mean I brainwash my children to believe in my religion. In fact none of my kids follow my path.

  • Mark Adams

    When I was student teaching, I had a student who “prayed” every time she didn’t want to do something. I eventually had to tell her to stop, because it was disrupting class… I got yelled at by the parent until I explained when she was doing it. I wouldn’t care at all if it were during lunch, though. What difference does that make?

  • Trashlady

    We bowed our heads every morning in school for a moment of silence and silent prayer. Most of our teachers attended a church somewhere. Guns hung in the windows on a rack in the back of pickup trucks. Guns were in every household and usually never locked up. The biggest crimes committed in my school was a boy set a roll of toilet paper on fire while smoking in the gym bathroom and older boys had fist fights on occasion behind the school building during recess. If caught, they got a belting from the Superintendent. There were no bullying and there damn sure weren’t no school shootings. We had Vietnam War raging and the fear of Russia attacking us. We even had to wear dog tags in case of war for identity purposes. It was a hard time with high levels of stress just as it is now for students. Let the children pray!!!

  • nikki

    shame on this so-called teacher or whom ever, God will punish u , u can bank on that……….

  • CMJO

    Of course the school is going to attack the family about putting a video up. They want to discredit them as much as possible. That’s why they did a subtle hint at them posting the video for their own reasons, not because something happened. Also, children seem to be more honest in situations like this, the teacher, on the other hand, has to save her job.