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Teacher Attack Tale Boy Suspended

April 28, 2000

BOSTON (AP) _ A story about a fictional student’s chain-saw attack on his English teacher got a real high school junior a three-day suspension.

Officials at Boston’s prestigious Latin Academy agreed to stay Charles Carithers’ suspension while his mother appeals.

Carithers says he’s guilty only of completing the assignment to write a scary story, and thought making the victim a teacher would make it more frightening.

``If I wrote a student killed his taxi driver, that doesn’t have the same effect,″ he said.

But his English teacher, who was not identified, was taken aback by the story, which describes a student athlete cutting off his teacher’s hand with a chain saw. Carithers runs track.

The essay, entitled ``Making the Grade,″ was considered a threat to do bodily harm, a violation of the school’s disciplinary code, Boston schools spokeswoman Tracey Lynch said.

Natalie Carithers’ effort to overturn the punishment got the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

``If the English teacher cannot handle expressive writing, then such assignments should not be made, or better yet, perhaps the teacher should seek another line of work,″ said John Roberts, the group’s executive director.

Last year, a 13-year-old boy in Ponder, Texas, spent five days in jail for writing a Halloween essay that involved the shooting of two students and a teacher. The case against him was eventually dropped.

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