Region: North America
Artist: J.K. Rowling
Confronting Bodies: Angie Haney and the Cedarville, Arkansas School Board
Dates of Action: 2002-2003
Location: Cedarville, Arkansas, United States
Description of Artwork: The Harry Potter series follows a young wizard through adolescence as he discovers the meaning of friendships, enemies, and dark magic.
The Incident: In June, 2002, Angie Haney,a mother of Cedarville school children, filed a formal complaint with the Cedarville school board against the books. In the report, Haney's reasons for objecting the book were that "parents/teachers/rules are stupid or are something to be ignored. That magic will solve your problems. That there are ‘good witches’ and ‘good magic.’" The Library Committee, made up of parents and other adults in the community, considered Haney's complaint and voted 15-0 to reject Haney's complaint. However, the school board voted 3-2 to remove the series from school libraries, where students must receive parental permission in order to check out the books. The books were placed in a restricted area of the library. Billy Ray Counts and Mary Nell Counts, parents of a child in the school system, filed a complaint against the Cedarville school district, and brought them to US district court. C. Brian Meadors, the Counts’ attorney, said that "The board’s restriction has the effect of stigmatizing the books and their readers."
Results of Incident: On April 22, 2003, US District Judge Jimm Hendren ruled that: “Regardless of the personal distaste with which these individuals regard 'witchcraft,’ it is not properly within their power and authority as members of defendant’s school board to prevent the students at Cedarville from reading about it." Judge Hendren ruled that it is unconstitutional for the school district to require children to receive parental permission when checking out the Harry Potter books from the school library. The judge's order was effective immediately.