Todd Starnes Gets Definitively Debunked
A few weeks ago, we wrote a post about the amazing coincidence that was at the center of one of Todd Starnes' recent columns about a young girl who had allegedly been told that she was not allowed to pray before eating her lunch in her elementary school lunch room.
As it turned out, the young girl just so happened to be the daughter of the man who is the Vice President of Sales at the Christian publishing house that is publishing Starnes' next book, which just so happens to be all about how religious liberty is under attack in America.
Even after this rather curious connection was pointed out and the school said there was no evidence that the incident had even happened, the parents and their lawyers at the Liberty Institute continued to demand an investigation and an apology from the school; at one point even arranging a line-up of school employees so the girl could identify just which teacher had allegedly told her that she was not allowed to pray.
The school at the center of this "controversy" bent over backwards to satisfy the parents and conducted a full investigation into the incident. Yesterday, the school district announced its findings and, as expected, found the allegations to be completely bogus:
School officials said Wednesday that they can't find any evidence to suggest that a kindergartner was told not to pray in a Seminole County elementary lunchroom.
But the school district apologized anyway, and a lawyer for the girl's parents said they are satisfied with the outcome.
"We found zero evidence an incident ever occurred," said district spokesman Mike Lawrence. "There's no proof whatsoever."
As for the identified staffer, a school-district investigator has concluded that "there is no way possible that person was anywhere near the lunchroom" that kindergartners and first-graders use. In addition to the student and her family, the district has interviewed staffers, the accused adult and Gabriella's classmates, Lawrence said.
Predictably, the parents and their right-wing attorney are trying to use the fact that the school issued a perfunctory apology to spin this as a victory:
In a statement, Jeremy Dys, the family's attorney, 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."
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