Students "degraded" for "spells"

Denver Rocky Mountain News/May 15, 1999
By John Ingold

Parents of sixth-graders disciplined for casting imaginary spells on classmates say a school official verbally abused and intimidated the girls.

"They were degraded for their grades, which are A's and B's," said Heidi Hazlett, whose daughter, Ashley Pederson, was one of the nine girls involved. "They were called trash and garbage. They were crying. "If this is the way we educate our students, there is something seriously wrong."

Problems began after one girl checked out a book about two months ago from the library at Panorama Middle School in Colorado Springs about the 1692 Salem witch trials. She became enthralled and began reading the book to her friends.

Ashley said other students began teasing the girls about being witches, and they responded by casting pretend spells on them.

Some of the students became frightened, so on May 4, vice principal Joan Abrahamsen twice talked to them about the spells.

"This didn't have anything to do so much with witchcraft as it does with intimidating other students," said Susan Klinsing, a spokeswoman for Harrison School District 2. "Any time a student is threatening or intimidating other students, the administration will step in and reprimand that."

But Hazlett said Abrahamsen berated the girls so much that her daughter didn't go to school for two days, and other parents kept their children out longer. She has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, but really wants an apology.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.