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Ga. court rebuffs mom's bid to ban Harry Potter books

By The Associated Press

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A suburban Atlanta mother who believes the best-selling Harry Potter books promote witchcraft said yesterday she may take her quest to ban the writings from her county schools to federal court after a state judge rejected her latest effort.

Laura Mallory, who said two of her four children attend public schools in Gwinnett County, told reporters it may be time to rethink her arguments with the help of an attorney.

“I maybe need a whole new case from the ground up,” said Mallory, who was not represented by an attorney at the hearing.

Her comments came after Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor said evidence previously presented by Gwinnett County school officials supported their decision not to remove the books from school libraries.

Batchelor rejected Mallory’s appeal of the local school district’s decision, which was upheld earlier by the state Board of Education.

Mallory has tried to ban the books from county school library shelves since August 2005, arguing that the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft.

School board members have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination. In May 2006, the county denied Mallory’s request. In December, the state Board of Education upheld the county’s decision.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, published by London-based Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, tell stories of children with magic powers. They have been challenged numerous times since 2000, making them the most challenged texts of the 21st century, according to the American Library Association.

At yesterday’s hearing, Mallory argued in part that witchcraft was a religion practiced by some people and, therefore, the books should be banned because reading them in school violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

“I have a dream that God will be welcomed back in our schools again,” Mallory said. “I think we need him.”

Mallory said she has testimony from children who have read the Harry Potter books and have thought about acting out spells described in the books.

“They don’t want the Easter Bunny’s power,” Mallory said. “The children in our generation want Harry’s power, and they’re getting it.”

But Victoria Sweeny, an attorney representing county school officials, said the officials were well within their right not to remove the books from library shelves. She said the court is bound by that decision.

“I’m not here to defend Harry Potter,” Sweeny said. “I’m here to defend the Gwinnett County Board of Education’s right to make lawful decisions.”

Harry Potter won't vanish from Ga. county's school libraries
Mother who has waged yearlong fight to ban popular series from her children's suburban Atlanta school district is considering appealing state Board of Education's decision. 12.14.06


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