I'm sure you're familiar with the story by Fox News' incomparable Todd Starnes, about a five year old girl named Gabriella Perez, who says she was admonished by a lunch teacher for wanting to pray and was also told she wasn't allowed to.
“A teacher saw her and told her, ‘you’re not allowed to do that,’” he said.Perez said his little girl replied, “But it’s good to pray.” The teacher alleged replied, “It’s not good.”
He said his daughter tried to pray once more but was admonished by the teacher. The child was not formally punished, he said.
It was just an odd coincidence that Starnes is simultaneously publishing a book titled God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values, which is as you guessed about anti-Christian oppression. And to add a little extra hot sauce onto that bizarre coincidence, the little girl's father is the vice president of sales for the publisher Starnes book. But there's really nothing to that connection at all because, you know, there just isn't.
Well, the school did an investigation and found no evidence that this happened to the very cute Gabriella and that the teacher in question wasn't even around at the time, but they did apologize nonetheless.
Now, the school insists that it found no evidence that a single bit of this actually happened. In fact, said district spokesman Mike Lawrence, the school’s investigation determined that the person who the girl identified as the guilty teacher — by pointing at a photo on the school’s website — could not have been “anywhere near the lunchroom” used by kindergarten and first-grade students.
Nonetheless, the school district did apologize to the parents, and initially at least, the legal Smeagols at the Liberty Institute accepted the apology, issuing a press release proclaiming that they had won a great moral victory. Jeremy Dys, the Liberty Institute attorney for the Perezes, said,
“We are grateful for the apology offered by Seminole County Schools. The Perez family gladly accepts this apology, along with the assurances to the community by the School Board that students in Seminole County School are free to exercise their First Amendment freedoms while at school.”
As good Christians with no motive at all to boost book sales, the family humbly accepted the apology. So you would think this would be the end of it, right?
Well, not so fast.
The family of a kindergartner who said she was stopped from praying has now rejected the apology from Seminole County Public Schools, as well as the conclusions of an internal investigation.
Two days after stating that Gabriella Perez's family had accepted the apology, lawyer Jeremy Dys said their position changed after reading the comments of district spokesman Michael Lawrence in the Orlando Sentinel.
Dys said it is clear now the district's response wasn't "a real apology." In addition, "we're not really confident the investigation actually took place," he said.
He sent a letter to Seminole schools on Friday requesting video footage from the school, emails to or about the family and phone logs relating to the case, including documentation of harassing or negative phone calls.
I guess the family had a meeting of the minds with the Liberty Institute and they decided to milk this for all it's worth. It's too bad that a five year old girl is being used as a pawn in this disgrace. Even if there was something to the story which seems very, very doubtful, would you throw your little daughter out there like that and film a video of her? There was no need to do that if they were serious about the charges. But if they were looking for PR, it's a brilliant move.