San Francisco News

SF student suspended over Connecticut poem

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A San Francisco high school senior is suspended because of a poem she wrote which dealt with the school shooting in Connecticut. What she wrote has left officials with a dilemma.

It was a dark poem and in the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, it raised red flags and triggered a quick response by school officials. Now the student is facing the possibility of being expelled.

"I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger," said Courtni Webb, the suspended student.

Those words in Webb's poem prompted school officials at the Life Learning Academy on Treasure Island to suspend the 17-year-old senior until further notice.

"Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?" wrote Webb in the poem.

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

She says she didn't turn in the poem as an assignment. Instead, the teacher discovered it in class and took it to the principal. But Webb says she's turned in dark poems about suicide and sadness in the past with no problem. It's a genre she likes.

"For example, the only person I can think of would be like 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.

But the atmosphere has changed drastically since the Sandy Hook tragedy and now the school is emphasizing its policy that "Life Learning Academy takes a zero tolerance approach to violence, the threat of violence&" and a "violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school."

"I feel like they're over reacting," said Valerie Statham, Webb's mother. "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."

Webb says her poems are a therapeutic way of expressing herself, but now it's up to the San Francisco Unified School District to decide if the poem is a form of art or a genuine threat to the safety of Webb's fellow students.

ABC7 News spoke with the principal of the Life Learning Academy Thursday night, but she said she would have to contact a district official and call us back. So far, we have not received a return call.

Meanwhile, Statham is expecting to hear from the district when school resumes on Jan. 7th.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
school violence, connecticut school shooting, san francisco news, alan wang
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