Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

San Francisco Charter School Student Courtni Webb Suspended for ‘Dark’ Newtown Shooting Poem

December 28, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Civil Liberties, Education with 0 Comments

A high school student in San Francisco was suspended after a teacher discovered a poem the girl had written about the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre.

Courtni Webb, a 17-year-old senior at the Life Learning Academy charter school on Treasure Island, wrote a “dark” poem in which she said she understood why Adam Lanza shot and killed 27 people, including 20 young children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14.

“I understand the killings in Connecticut,” Webb wrote. “I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?”

Although Webb does not celebrate, condone or promote violence in her poem, but merely expresses understanding of why the Newtown tragedy occurred, school officials have suspended her until further notice and are considering expelling the senior just months before she is scheduled to graduate.

Webb, who says she has turned in dark poems as assignments before, intended the controversial poem for her own private use. But a teacher discovered it and forwarded it to the principal, and that’s when the student’s troubles began.

“The meaning of the poem is just talking about society and how I understand why things like that incident happen,” Webb explained to KGO. “So it’s not like I’m agreeing with it, but that’s how the school made it seem.”

Webb compared herself to the popular horror novelist Stephen King, who she says “writes weird stuff all the time.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s going to do it or act it out,” Webb told KGO.

For its part, Life Learning Academy stressed its “zero tolerance approach to violence, the threat of violence [and] a violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school.”

Webb’s mother said she believed school officials are overreacting.

“My daughter doesn’t have a history of violence. She didn’t threaten anybody. She didn’t threaten herself. She simply said she understood why,” Valerie Statham, Webb’s mother, told KGO.

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