AP 22-OCT-98

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The official referral form lists the reason for Jamie Schoonover's suspension from school as "Casting a spell on a student."

The 15-year-old freshman admits she practices witchcraft, as does her mother. But she knows better that 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," Ms. Harper said.

Miss Schoonover and Jennifer Rassen, who broke down in hysterics Tuesday when she thought she had been "hexed," met Wednesday with Southwestern High School's principal to try to sort things out.

According to Miss Schoonover, she and some friends were sitting beneath a tree on school grounds Tuesday when they noticed the names of other girls scrawled on a wall. One of the friends wanted to cross out the names, so Jamie lent her a correction fluid pen.

The friend crossed out the names, then wrote, "Is life a virtue of death?"

When Miss Rassen saw her name crossed out and the question, she ran to Principal Earl L. Lee saying the other girl had cast a spell on her.

"She was hysterical," said schools spokeswoman Vanessa Pyatt. "She was distraught and crying violently."

Miss Schoonover was sent home because school officials considered the alleged spell a verbal threat that violates the student discipline code. She was allowed back to school after the meeting.

"We do not believe that anyone was threatened," Ms. Pyatt said. "Everyone emerged from the meeting, I think, satisfied that the issue had been resolved."

Ms. Harper called it all a misunderstanding -- and a perfect example of misconceptions about witchcraft, or Wicca, the modern form of paganism that she and her daughter practice. Wicca is more like a folklore-tinged herbalism that dictates that "whatever you do comes back to you threefold," she said.

Ms. Harper wished the girls could have resolved the dispute themselves.

"I really feel sorry that it didn't happen, because my daughter was so upset with the fact that this girl was upset," she said.


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