Teachers at Newark’s Technology High School are expressing concern about what they say is the publication by a student of an e-book in which a frustrated and bullied high school student murders a teacher and two students. The book is entitled “White Rose Killer” and its listed author is Francis Ventura. Francis Ventura is the name of a junior registered at Technology.
In an e-mail, one teacher wrote that the identities of both the student and the student’s teacher victim are known throughout the school. “The whole school is talking about this,” wrote one teacher. “Nothing is being done to the student who wrote the book.”
In the introduction to the book, the student explains:
“This book is true when it comes to the teacher, the bff, and the pet in regards to their personalities and their actions. The killing that was done in the book is not real, and will never happen. Nobody should do this to other people. It’s phycotic (sic), and just wrong. Even though a person may deserve it, it should not be done.”
The teacher targeted in the book has been identified as Cristina Dios, a foreign language teacher at Technology
The book has been published on the site “Blurb” and carries this brief description:
“It’s a thrill ride on a girl’s life who kills her three enemies. She uses her knife collection on those people, and kills them to make others, and herself happier.”
In the book’s introduction, the writer self-identifies as a student in the “Newark Public Schools system” and says she suffered from a “deep depression” that she blames on a teacher.
One of the narrators in the book writes in reference to another student:
“She will be the first one to pay for what she did. I will torture her to the point where she can’t breathe. Before she’s killed, I will make her regret messing with me. After her death, my life will be much better.”
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the Blurb site was down, allegedly for “maintenance.” As of 9 pm, the site was still down, giving the lie to the idea it was down or routine maintenance. Whether Blurb’s blackout is due to the Newark student’s book is not clear.
This site hesitated before publishing the concerns of the teachers. Students have the right to express themselves and any student willing to write a novel should be encouraged. But our history is sharply punctuated by the consequences of the failure to notice when a young person is troubled and needs help. I wasn’t going to be one in a long line of people who could have acted but failed.
I have violated no one’s confidentiality here. The book is posted, presumably by the author, and available to anyone wishing to see it. The teacher is aware of its contents, according to her colleagues.
I am hopeful the student will be counseled by competent professionals–if they all haven’t been laid off by the state administration–and is found to be simply a young woman with an overblown imagination and no malicious intentions or uncontrollable urges. I also am hopeful the student’s parents are aware of their chlid’s activities.
Finally, I am hopeful the teacher is both protected and reassured that her safety–and those of all students and all teachers–are the school’s paramount concern.