Ga. Judge: Keep Potter Books in School

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By HARRY R. WEBER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 29, 2007; 5:43 PM

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- The adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter can stay in Gwinnett County school libraries, despite a mother's objections, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Laura Mallory, who argued the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft, said she still wants the best-selling books removed and may take her case to federal court.

"I maybe need a whole new case from the ground up," Mallory said. The woman, who said two of her four children attend public schools in the county, was not represented by an attorney at the hearing.

The ruling by Superior Judge Ronnie Batchelor upheld a decision by the Georgia Board of Education, which had supported local school officials.

County school board members have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, published by London-based Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, tell stories of children with magic powers. They are the most challenged texts of the 21st century, according to the American Library Association.

At Tuesday's hearing, Mallory argued in part that witchcraft is 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."

Victoria Sweeny, an attorney representing county school officials, said the judge has to respect their authority to leave the books on library shelves.

"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."


© 2007 The Associated Press

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