A North Carolina high school teacher is fighting her suspension after telling administrators she practices a pagan religion associated with witchcraft.

Shari Eicher, an 11th-grade English teacher at Scotland High School in Laurinburg, said she was escorted off campus by officials of the school and suspended with pay indefinitely on January 10 because of her religious beliefs.

Eicher, whose school is about 85 miles southeast of Charlotte, and her husband, Richard, have been practicing Wiccans since 1998. Eicher, who has taught at the school for three years, said last week that she has contacted the North Carolina Education Association for legal assistance in appealing her suspension, Reuters reported.

Scotland County Schools Superintendent Shirley Prince declined to comment except to say that an investigation into the matter has begun. Eicher said she did not talk to students about Wicca. She disclosed her religious beliefs to administrators after a reporter asked her about an Internet Web site about a local Wicca group that was maintained by her husband.

The teacher also said she did not hide her beliefs from high school administrators. She said she had been told her faith would not present a problem as long as her beliefs did not interfere with her teaching.

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