Education
SF student poem. Photo - ABC 7 KGO-TV San Francisco SF student poem. Photo - ABC 7 KGO-TV San Francisco  

San Francisco high school senior suspended over grim poem about Conn. shooting

A senior at a San Francisco charter high school has been suspended indefinitely and faces possible expulsion for writing a poem, which school officials deemed disturbingly dark, about the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

According to SF Weekly, officials at Life Learning Academy were particularly rattled by these lines: “I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?”

Courtni Webb authored the alarming verse less than two weeks after a lone gunman killed 20 young children and six teachers at the Sandy Hook School.

Webb, 17, says the poem was merely a social commentary she wrote on her own time, reports KGO-TV. But a teacher found it in class and, after reading it, notified the principal.

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

Bleak themes including suicide are part of Webb’s repertoire, she said, and the young bard has reportedly turned in similarly gloomy poems without consequences.

She compared herself to macabre novelist Stephen King.

“He writes weird stuff all the time. That doesn’t mean he’s going to do it or act it out,” said Webb, according to KGO.

Officials at Life Learning Academy are taking no chances in light of the Connecticut shooting. They say the school “takes a zero tolerance approach to violence,” the ABC affiliate reported. A “violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school.”

Webb’s mother, Valerie Statham, insists that school officials are overreacting.

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

Statham says she doesn’t expect to hear anything until school starts again on Jan. 7.

Life Learning Academy is a high school for students who have been unsuccessful in other school settings for a number of different reasons. It’s located on Treasure Island, a former Navy base in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

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