'Potter' decision expected at next board meeting

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett Board of Education's is expected to rule this week on the fate of the "Harry Potter" series on public school shelves.

The decision may close the chapter on a debate that has attracted international attention to Gwinnett County schools. It was started by Laura Mallory, an evangelical Christian who has three children at J.C. Magill Elementary School.

Mallory contested the book series' place in school media centers because she said she objected to their "evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells and teaching children all of this," according to her complaint forms.

The school board will decide whether to ban the books or keep them in school media centers at their monthly board meeting Thursday night.

Supporters and opponents of the "Harry Potter" book series attended a public hearing April 20 to debate their points. All of the school board members were given a copy of the books, a transcript of the public hearing and additional documents related to the hearing.

This has been the most recent book appeal since 1997, when complainants asked the Board of Education to remove "Ghost Camp" by R.L. Stein and "It's Not the End of the World" by Judy Blume. Committees recommended the board take no action, allowing the books to stay on the shelves. The school board upheld both those decisions.

Members of the public will not be invited to speak for or against the "Harry Potter" books at the meeting, since a public hearing was already held.

At Thursday's meeting, the school board is also expected to approve its budget for the 2006-07 school year. The second and final public budget hearing will be held at the beginning of the board meeting, before the budget is officially approved.

n What: Gwinnett Board of Education monthly meeting

•When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

•Where: Gwinnett County Public Schools Instructional Support Center, 437 Old Peachtree Road, Suwanee