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I really don't use the web safe pallete anymore for general audiences. If I know a page might be for beginning or older web surfers then I do use the pallete. I think it depends on your audience. If you think mostly students will use the site then I would proceed in the colors you want.
You may want to check out some of our threads on usability. Color has meaning on the web and should be chosen wisely for links and other web aspects.
I don't stick to the websafe palette either.. Don't think it's that much of a concern today.
Another fabulous thread re color selection was this one:
in relation to color blindness. Has links to some excellent tools to see your colors as someone with a vision defect would.
Was pleased to see my sites passed well... and even more pleased to see some of my competitors sites looking... well.... looking like a big page of nothing, really. :)