According to 5-year-old Gabriella Perez, she was told to stop praying by one of the Kindergarten teachers on duty when she sat down to lunch. School officials rebuke the allegation, saying there is no basis for the claim.
Marcos Perez, Gabriella’s father, posted a video on YouTube early last week featuring his daughter talking about the alleged 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 YouTube video.
School principal Analynn Jones told Gabriella's parents none of his staff members had any memory of the incident and added, "We don't have a policy against student prayer at all."
Gabriella’s mother, Kathy Perez, believes what her daughter says is 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," she said.
The family’s lawyer, Jeremiah Dys, of the Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, told reporters they will fight this particular battle in court unless the school offers a letter of apology by April 7.
“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,” said Dys.
There have been some question as to the veracity of the little girl's claim.
Michael Lawrence, a school spokesman, said staff was told by the principal that there were no rules against prayer following the incident. Lawrence says school officials are considering the possibility that Gabriella may have misinterpreted something.
Image via YouTube