Poem (l) by Courtni
Poem (l) by Courtni Webb

A schoolgirl who penned a poem about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has been barred from lessons.

Teachers panicked after seeing lines written by 17-year-old Courtni Webb in the aftermath of the slaughter of 20 children and six adults at the Connecticut school.

The move by the authorities at Life Learning Academy in San Francisco has been condemned as a blow against free speech and unconstitutional.

But the decision to suspend Courtni was taken because her words were a "threat", insisted the school.

Lines in the poem include: "They took my kindness for weakness" and "I know why he pulled the trigger".

It was seen by a teacher who alerted school managers who wrote to her  family.

"We discovered a note that contained deeply concerning and threatening language related to the recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut," it said.

"Our concerns are both for the safety of the school community and Courtni herself."

The Sandy Hook rampage by Adam Lanza sparked a fresh debate about firearms laws in the United States.

Courtni told reporters: "I feel like I've been made to feel like a monster by my school and I don't appreciate that at all.

"Never in my life have I heard that you can't mention a tragedy that happened. I didn't say I agreed with it, I said I understand it."

Her mother, Valerie Statham, accused the school of being heavy-handed, claiming authorities violated her daughter's freedom of speech.

"I feel like they're overreacting. 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."

Courtni could be expelled from school, but insisted: "This inspires me to speak my mind even more."

She has written a new poem about the episode, while she is suspended from school. It is entitled Judgment.