Courtni Webb (pictured), a student at the Life Learning Academy on Treasure Island in San Francisco, deviated from the standard poem one might expect from the tragedy. Writing, “I understand the killings in Connecticut/I know why he pulled the trigger,” Webb’s words triggered a nervous response from her teacher, who then reported the poem to the school’s principal.
School officials suspended Webb without further notice after reading the poem. Life Learning Academy has cited its violence policy as reasoning for the suspension. “The school takes a zero tolerance approach to violence or the threat of violence. Rule violations can result in expulsion,” a statement from the school read.
Watch a news report about Webb’s suspension:
Webb doesn’t agree that her poem was violent. “The meaning of the poem is talking about society and how I understand why things like that incident happened,” she said. “So it’s not like I’m agreeing with it, but that’s how the school made it seem.”
The 17-year-old says she previously turned in dark poems about suicide and sadness, all accepted before Sandy Hook.
“I feel like they’re over reacting,” said Valarie Statham, Webb’s mother. “Why? Because 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.”
The San Francisco Unified School District will determine if Webb’s poem constituted a threat or was simply free expression.