A five-year-old public school student in Florida will now be homeschooled after she was told by a school official she couldn't say grace before eating her lunch.
Jeremy Dys of the Liberty Institute, who's representing the daughter of Marcos Perez, says Carillon Elementary School in Oviedo is in violation of the Department of Education guidelines that specifically protect children who want to pray before their meal.
"Look, a five-year-old girl bowing her head and folding her hands in silent thanks for her food will never violate the Constitution," Dys tells OneNewsNow. "Not only can this little girl and others across the country pray – if school officials don't let them, not only do they violate the Constitution they can lose federal funding."
To her credit, Dys says the little girl stood her ground when she was told it was wrong to pray. The senior counsel explains what transpired:
"The lunchroom supervisor said not to do that – and she said But it's good to pray – just like her parents had taught her. And the teacher responds not with an OK, go ahead, but with a No, it's wrong to pray. And good for this little girl – she turns around and says No, it is good to pray; and she tries to do it again but is stopped a second time."
Dys and the Perez family met with school officials on Monday, and during that meeting the offending official was identified. The school has now opened a full investigation.
"We are grateful that Carillon Elementary School is now taking this matter seriously and conducting a thorough investigation," says Dys. "We hope that, at the conclusion of this investigation, school officials will apologize for this clear violation of the Perez family's religious liberty and begin to restore the trust of the community."
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Along with the Liberty Institute statement was this statement by Marcos Perez, the girl's father: "My goal throughout this process has been to defend my daughter's religious liberty. I am thankful that the school now believes that something clearly happened when my daughter attempted to say grace and is taking swift action to correct the situation."
Mr. Perez had stated last week that while he believes they live in a good school district, he "in good conscience [couldn't] send our daughter to a school where her religious liberty has been compromised." For that reason, he said they were opting to teach her at home instead.
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