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Gary Younge
School warns: hit your son or he's out

In recent months Chandler Fallaw had returned home from Shaumburg Christian school with disciplinary notes for showing off, offering his teacher chewing gum, not finishing his work and bringing toys into class.

When his mother, Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson, went to pick him up last week she was told by the assistant administrator: "Either he gets a spanking before he leaves today, or I'm suspending him."

Ms Fallaw-Gabrielson refused. The administrator told her: "You know he's suspended, and that's a very serious matter on his record."

The school, run by the Bethel Baptist church, advocates "parent-administered corpo ral punishment" for children from nursery to secondary school age. "When this becomes necessary, parents will be asked to administer this form of punishment," says the school's rulebook.

"Our policies are reasonable, they are legal; they are in writing," the school administrator, Randy Thaxton, told the Chicago Tribune. "When it gets to the point where the teacher can't solve the problem in the classroom, and the administration can't solve the problem, we ask parents to fix the problem.

"We'd say: 'Look, our policy is you have an option. You can spank your child, or we will suspend him for the day.'"

Ms Fallaw-Gabrielson said: "I was so shocked that they were putting me in this situation. By no means is my child perfect, [but] I'm a huge communicator and I feel like physical [punishment] is not the answer."

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