updated 5/16/2006 3:10:37 AM ET 2006-05-16T07:10:37

A high school teacher has apologized for asking students to write about whom they would kill and how they would do it.

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Michael Maxwell, who teaches industrial technology at Central High School, said his request that students in his beginning drafting class describe how they would carry out a murder was merely a writing prompt. It was not clear why he asked the drafting class to write fiction.

"I made a horrible mistake that I regret," Maxwell said. "I want to apologize to my students, my colleagues and to the community."

The April 21 writing request, which Maxwell said was not a formal assignment, came to the attention of administrators when a parent of one of the students filed a complaint with Principal Barton Albright.

Albright expressed regret and apologized for Maxwell's "lapse of judgment."

"He's an exemplary person.... This is very out of character," the principal said.

Maxwell won't lose his job, but he has been suspended for a week without pay and placed on six months' probation.

The school superintendent says no further action will be taken against Maxwell. She says, "This has rocked his world, as it has rocked our world."

About 25 to 30 students from ninth through 12th grades were in the class, Albright said.

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