Student suspended for Sandy Hook poem

A San Francisco high school senior was suspended — and could be expelled — for writing a poem about the Sandy Hook massacre. “I know why he pulled the trigger,” wrote Courtni Webb, 17, in a notebook. She thinks gunman Adam Lanza felt isolated and unloved.

Webb goes to the Life Learning Academy, a small charter school for “troubled” students, including those with arrest records. It has a “zero tolerance” policy against violence, which school administrators say the poem violated. A letter to Courtni’s mother said the poem “contained deeply concerning, and threatening language.”

Here’s part of the poem:

They wanna hold me back
I run but still they still attack
My innocence, I won’t get back
I used to smile
They took my kindness for weakness
The silence the world will never get
I understand the killing in Conecticut
I know why he pulled the trigger
The government is a shame
Society never wants to take the blame
Society puts these thoughts in our head
Misery loves company
If I can’t be loved no one can

Writing about violence isn’t the same as wanting to commit violence, says Courtni.

The poem doesn’t read like a threat to me.


About Joanne


  1. GEORGE LARSON says:

    How does a school with an absolute zero tolerance for violence cover the American Civil War, the Holocaust or any messy pieces of history? Have they removed the violence from Shakespeare?

    I think they must of had it in for this women if they found her poetry threatening.

  2. Don’t you have to be a moron to be a school administrator?

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I suppose this could be the proverbial “cry for help” which is ignored most of the time, except when parents find help, or when it’s discovered among the late shooter’s papers.
    It can’t not be ignored, although counseling would be the answer, not this !@#$%^&* idea of EXCLUSION.

  4. This is silly. Nothing in her poem states she agrees with him. It’s a political commentary! You don’t expel a student who writes disturbing things, you get them therapy and watch their behavior! I can see a call home, and a psyche eval if someone is very concerned, but not this knee jerk reaction.

  5. Michael E. Lopez, Esq. says:

    The article chalks it up to “school administrator.” This suspension didn’t just happen to Courtni — some very specific person DID this to her. (Perhaps justifiably, but it doesn’t seem that way from the available information.)

    Here’s a name: Teri Lynch Delane.

    Ms. Delane is supposedly the principal of this fine institution, and is responsible for things like this. Ms. Delane allegedly has a very colorful personal history that should give her the basis for understanding what really matters, and what matters not at all. Someone with that sort of life story might be expected to know when a bureaucracy is overreacting.

    You’d think, anyway.

  6. Stacy in NJ says:

    We don’t know her history. The poem seems unobjectionable to me, but we lack context here. I’d love to write this off as no tolerance nazi nonsense, but without knowing her specific story – no way.

  7. Considering that this is a school for “troubled” kids, including some with arrest records, the poem shouldn’t be ignored. Exactly what is done should be determined by the student’s personal background. However, psych eval should come into the equation, not expulsion alone.If there is any danger, expulsion won’t ameliorate or prevent it. According to ML’s link, the principal has a PhD in clinical psych; perhaps she might put that degree to use. More intervention, possibly including inpatient treatment, may be needed.

  8. > determined by the student’s personal background.
    > However, psych eval should come into the equation

    This is exactly what I would fear: justice by administrative fiat and not by rule of law. If you do it this way, then the “right” student can get away with anything, but the “wrong” student will catch hell no matter what. There need to be clear-cut guidelines that allow for no administrative weaseling, else you just have a tyranny.

    • I am in no way arguing against clear-cut guidelines for either psych eval or disciplinary action; I support them. What I said is that since this particular school is for “troubled” kids, the poem/kid needs a closer look than a “non-troubled” kid; Why is she in the school? What is/are the nature of her problem(s)? Does the poem suggest exacerbation of such issues?

      I am very familiar with the possibilities of over-reaction. One of my son’s classmates needed a “check-plus” on his HS journal, to make sure of an A for the period. Given that his teacher was quite possibly certifiable (unless you consider screaming, running out of the classroom and being absent for the rest of the day a normal reaction to a handful of horse chestnuts on her desk) and into very dark dreams (her own and in lit). My son, his friend and a couple of other friends collaborated on a series of dark, wholly-imaginary, journal posts (written in different inks) for him. He got the check plus and a trip to the guidance counselor, who had enough common sense to confirm his story and send him on his way. Journaling encourages such antics and wastes time.