Education: Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
Jamie the Teenage Witch: Fifteen-year-old Baltimore student Jamie Schoonover has been suspended from school for allegedly casting a spell on a schoolmate. Black-clad, "goth" rock fan Schoonover admits she practises witchcraft, as does her mother, but says she knows better than to cast a spell. "Casting a spell isn't something that just any novice is going to know how to do," said Colleen Harper, a transsexual who was Jamie's biological father but now calls herself the girl's mother. "If she ever were to cast any spells, it would be along the lines of wishing prosperity on someone or healing someone," she added.

But Schoonover was sent home because school officials considered the alleged spell to be a verbal threat that violates the student discipline code. Ms Harper called it all a misunderstanding and a perfect example of misconceptions about witchcraft, or Wicca, which is the modern form of paganism that she and her daughter practise.

For God or Country: A High Court judge in Singapore has ruled that the constitutional rights of a Jehovah's Witness were not violated when he was fired from his teaching job for refusing to sing the national anthem or recite the national pledge.

"This is one case where the interest of the state in the education system must prevail over those of the individual," Judge Tan Lee Meng said in his ruling. He ruled that Peter Nappalli should have known before he sought the job that it required practices that Jehovah's Witnesses find objectionable. The judge added that Nappalli had not been 'forthright' in filling out his application because he did not state that he was a Jehovah's Witness and also withheld the fact that he had served three years in a prison camp for refusing to serve in the armed services because of his religion. Judge Tan finished with a rousing defence of the right of the school to promote patriotism among its students.

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