The Georgia Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether a suburban Atlanta school district acted appropriately when it denied a mother's request to remove Harry Potter books from library shelves.

Board members agreed Wednesday to put the matter on their Thursday agenda for a vote. A hearing officer has recommended that the state board uphold the Gwinnett County school board's decision to keep the best-selling books on shelves.

"A lot of folks would like to get into a substantive discussion of the matter," board member Brad Bryant said during the meeting. But the state board can only decide whether a local board "acted within its scope of authority," he said.

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The mother, Laura Mallory of Loganville, was not at the meeting. She has not returned repeated calls for comment this week.

Mallory has worked for more than a year to ban the popular books from the suburban school district because she claims the novels indoctrinate children in pagan religion.

The board originally had planned to discuss Mallory's appeal Thursday in a closed meeting but switched the discussion to a public forum on Wednesday after The Associated Press filed a formal protest with Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

Gwinnett County school officials have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination. Officials have said banning all books with references to witchcraft would mean mainstays like "Macbeth" and "Cinderella" would have to go.