A Harry Potter-themed school is under investigation as questions about zoning rights, trademark infringement, and the school’s operations remain unanswered.
Spellcaster’s Academy is to be located in Westfield, Indiana, and for young fans of Warner Bros. Entertainment’s Harry Potter franchise, Spellcaster’s will be a dream come true. That is, if it ever becomes more than just a pipe dream.
Per the school’s website, the mission of Spellcaster’s Academy is to give underprivileged kids another option for being educated by creating a safe, revolutionary alternative learning environment that focuses on life skills and helping students find a career they are passionate about, to educate their parents and help them get better, higher-paying jobs, and to rebuild and properly maintain their neighborhoods and teach the residents how to perform these services so the students can grow up in a positive, beautiful environment.
However, there are several issues at the school that have more than a few eyebrows raised.
Issues & Inconsistencies at Spellcaster’s Academy
The Harry Potter-themed is not yet accredited by the Indiana State Board of Education, which raises questions about the standards to which teachers and students at Spellcaster’s Academy will be held. The school touts its “extremely small student to teacher ratios, targeted curriculum, customized pace and lesson plans based on each student,” and its “new approach to education,” which includes a “magic and wizarding-themed, student- and parent-led learning style that prioritizes life and leadership skills, as well as personal and career development,” but it’s important to point out that it’s not even clear whether the school has opened at this time.
According to its website, the Spellcaster’s Academy aims to provide an alternative learning environment for underprivileged kids. Like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, the Spellcaster’s Academy features Gothic-style architecture and Quidditch hoops on the property. However, it’s unclear when the school will officially open or if it has hired teachers or has admitted students. The school is not currently accredited by the state’s Department of Education, though it did receive tax-exempt approval from the IRS last month.
On the GuideStar Charity Check website, Spellcaster’s Academy is listed, but its profile contains very little information.
A School/Airbnb Rental?
Perhaps the most surprising announcement about Spellcaster’s Academy is that it doubles as an Airbnb that is available for rental at the rate of $270 per night, and the listing claims that profits made from the rental will benefit Spellcaster’s Academy:
Come stay in the first fully functioning wizarding academy in the United States! The main hall is where our students attend classes during the week. There is a kitchen, full bathroom, and a two floor dormitory tower with the Copperclaw House common room on the first floor and the sleeping quarters on the second. The property also features a great lake, Quadball Pitch and Mystical Forest. Still waiting on your letter from Hogwarts? Come visit us instead! All proceeds benefit Spellcaster’s Academy and its students.
According to Chris Wellan, the owner of the property and “headmaster” of Spellcaster’s Academy, the school is designed to operate as a “hybrid home and school, tantamount to a Boys and Girls Club,” as well as to help youngsters in need.
But when visitors to the site click on the link to book the Hogwarts-inspired Airbnb, they instead receive a “page not found” message.
Donations Accepted . . . But There Are Questions
Spellcaster’s Academy is registered as a 501c3 organization and accepts donations from groups and individuals. The school even has a GoFundMe page that was created on July 23, 2023, just one day after a grand opening celebration was to take place, per a YouTube video on the Spellcaster’s Academy website. As of the time of this publication, the GoFundMe page has zero donations and a goal of raising $100,000.
The GoFundMe page set up for the academy only mentions Spellcaster’s Academy twice–but not at the top of the page where visitors might expect to see the name of the entity to which they are being asked to donate. The name associated with the GoFundMe page for the academy is Briana Linville.
An Investigation Into the School’s Operations
According to IndyStar, the city of Westfield, Indiana, where Spellcaster’s Academy is located, has begun an investigation into the Harry Potter-themed school. The exact focus of the city’s investigation is not clear, but its’ worth noting that there’s no record of zoning approval for the school in the city’s records at this time.
Further, it’s not clear whether Spellcaster’s Academy has Warner Bros. permission to use Hogwarts and other Harry Potter-affiliated trademarks in the school. Though Warner Bros. has been contacted for comment, no comment has been made as of the time of this publication.
What comes of Westfield’s investigation into the Harry Potter-themed school remains to be seen.