Story Archive

Spellbound

When a teacher at Union Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow, Okla., fell “mysteriously” ill, student Brandi Blackbear, 15, was brought in for “aggressive interrogation” by assistant principal Charlie Bushyhead. Blackbear admitted she had read books from the school library about Wicca and said she “might” be Wiccan. She is Roman Catholic, her family says. A federal lawsuit against the school charges Bushyhead suspended Blackbear for 15 days as “an immediate threat to the school,” seized her notebooks, and barred her from drawing or wearing any Wiccan signs, because he concluded she had “put a hex” on the stricken teacher. Blackbear denies casting any spells. “It’s hard for me to believe that in the year 2000 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft brought by her own school,” her father said. The school district’s attorney, Doug Mann, was eager to comment on the case but could only complain, “It’s totally unfair that we are gagged by federal and state law” protecting minors and students when the Blackbears “can say anything they want.” (RC/Tulsa World, Reuters) ...Which is why we need those laws, counselor.
Story Update: In 2006, the "Lifetime" cable channel made Brandi's story into a TV movie, Not Like Everyone Else.

As for the lawsuit, Wikipedia notes that "the school offered a settlement, [but] the Blackbears refused. They were not interested in the money, despite needing it; what they really wanted was to have their story heard in court to inform the public that the school had mistreated Brandi. The judge ruled to dismiss the charges rather than going to trial, and ordered the Blackbears to pay $6,000 in court fees, which they could not afford. Eventually it was agreed to drop the fees if the Blackbears dropped their appeal."

So Brandi didn't get justice, but at least her story was told to a wider audience.

Original Publication Date: 26 November 2000
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 7.

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