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The teacher and the fly

MIO, Mich. -- A teacher has been suspended without pay for the rest of the year because of complaints he allowed a student to eat a fly in class.

Michael Messinger, an English and social studies instructor in the Mio-Au Sable district, said only that he once told his seventh-grade pupils they should 'eat what they kill' as part of hunting safety instructions.

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But some of Messinger's pupils have another story.

Reports that began circulating around the school indicate a boy in one of Messinger's classes swatted a fly one day last October and commented that he didn't want to eat 'uncooked' meat.

Messinger put the fly on a stick, lit a match under it and handed it back to the pupil, according to later complaints.

The pupil, whom school officials declined to identify, did not file a complaint against Messinger. But word of the incident got around, and, Messinger says, the mother of another pupil complained to school officials.

Messinger, who has taught in the northern Michigan district for seven years, was suspended for nearly two months with pay while school officials worked out an agreement with the teachers' union.

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Under the agreement reached early January, Messinger was suspended without pay until next fall.

Messinger declines to discuss specifics of the incident but denies ordering the student to eat the 'cooked' fly.

School officials Tuesday declined comment. Superintendent Bruce Rank said the 'issue is over.'

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