California Teen Suspended Over Newtown Poem

Posted By Urban News Hour | January 1, 2013

Teen ‘shocked, hurt’ after suspended for writing Sandy Hook poem. California high school student Courtni Webb was suspended for writing a poem about the Newtown tragedy. The school said the poem violated its policy against threats of violence, but Webb and her mother say the school is overreacting.

A California teenager who expressed her feelings about the Newtown school massacre in a poem has found herself suspended and facing possible expulsion.

“I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger,” wrote Courtni Webb in her poem.

“Misery loves company. If I can’t be loved no one can,” she wrote.

Webb told NBC News that she wrote the poem to express her belief that people act violently when they feel helpless.

“I didn’t say that I agree with it, I said I simply understand it,” she said of the killings.

“I feel like I’ve really been made to almost look like a monster by my school and I don’t appreciate that at all.”

One of Webb’s teachers at Life Learning Academy came across the poem in her notebook and turned it over to administrators, who promptly suspended her.

Her mother Valerie was shocked by the harsh punishment.

“She wasn’t threatening herself, you know, she didn’t threaten the school, she didn’t threaten anybody,” she said.

The charter school, which serves teens who have been involved in the juvenile justice system or had other difficulties in traditional schools, said Webb violated its zero tolerance policy toward violence.

A letter from a Life Learning Academy official said Webb’s writing “contained deeply concerning, and threatening language related to the recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.”

“Our concerns are for both the safety of our school community and for Courtni herself,” it continued.

But Valerie Webb said her daughter is the victim.

“I feel like they violated her freedom of speech,” she added.

The high school senior, meanwhile, said the school’s punishment wouldn’t stop her from writing. In fact, she’s using the experience as fodder for a new poem called “Judgement.”




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