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Blogging Teacher to Return to CB East

Natalie Munroe will resume her post in the fall, but how will students and parents react?

Will she or won’t she?

Ever since CB East teacher Natalie Munroe made national headlines in February for writing negative blog posts about her students, the question on most everyone’s mind has been whether she would return to the Buckingham high school this fall.

The answer to that question has arrived.

Her attorney, Steven Rovner, told news outlets Wednesday that Munroe would return to CB East and teach the same classes, including Honors English, as before.

On her blog, Munroe posted Wednesday night her version of how she found out she would be returning to work. She said she asked to be transferred to another school, but was denied.

Munroe has been a teacher at CB East, one of the top high schools in Pennsylvania, since 2006. CB East, one of three high schools in the Central Bucks School District, ranks 9th in Pennsylvania based on a comparison of 2009-2010 test scores from the state’s standardized testing system, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

This year, it graduated 100 percent of its senior class, three out of 10 of whom graduated with a 3.7 or better grade point average. Of the 2011 graduating class, 94 percent are going on to college.

Munroe was suspended in February when her blog went public and has been out on maternity leave since then. She was scheduled to inform the Central Bucks School District by August whether she wanted to return to her job.

Wednesday, the district announced that it would hold a press briefing next Wednesday, August 3, to discuss Munroe’s status. A district representative declined comment until then.

Though they’ve had little to say publicly about Munroe since the incident went viral, the question of what to do about her has hung over the school board. Do they fire her? Do they do nothing, and allow her to return if she chooses?

“I’m really torn,” board member Geri McMullin, who represents Doylestown, said Wednesday. “I can go either way. I need to hear more from our legal people before I decide. I don’t want to put the district in financial jeopardy.”

But how parents and students and even her fellow teachers will react to Munroe’s return is another story.

"She will be completely ineffectual here," said one teacher, who asked not to be identified.

How it all began

Natalie Munroe never identified herself or her school in her blog.

Entitled “Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket,” most of her posts were about her life, her friends, her daughter, and her pregnancy with baby No. 2.

But her blog carried her photo, and the name Natalie M.

She wrote about her colleagues and her life at the high school where she had been a teacher for just a few semesters. She said she had taken to eating lunch alone because of conflicts with her colleagues.

But it was a post about her students that propelled the Warminster woman to notoriety.

She wrote about the frustration of having to choose “canned” comments to put on her students’ report cards and suggested alternatives, including:

  • “A complete and utter jerk in all ways. Although academically ok, your child has no other redeeming qualities.”
  • “One of the few students I can abide this semester!”
  • “Has no business being in Academic.”
  • “Lazy asshole.”
  • “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”
  • “Weirdest kid I’ve ever met.”
  • “I hear the trash company is hiring…”
  • “There’s no other way to say this: I hate your kid.”

It ended with, “Thus, the old adage…if you don’t have anything nice to say…say 'cooperative in class.'"

A piece of clip art that accompanied the post particularly enraged disability advocates and school board members. It depicted a special-needs school bus and read, “I don’t care if you lick windows, take the special bus, or occasionally pee on yourself, you hang in there sunshine, you’re friggin’ special.”

The story goes viral

The post was from 2010, but in February 2011, Munroe’s blog was discovered, and students and parents were soon emailing the link across cyberspace.

Some students used the occasion to lash back at Munroe, calling her vulgar names, as well as the "worst teacher I ever had."

The story quickly went very, very public, from local news outlets to CNN, MSNBC and the BBC.

Competing Facebook pages were launched, supporting or bashing Munroe. An MSNBC poll garnered nearly 84,000 votes, 97% of whom voted that Munroe should not be suspended.

Of course, that national attention waned. But back here at home, everyone involved knew a day of reckoning still lay ahead.

Natalie Munroe still blogs, this time at an eponymous website, nataliemunroe.com.

She still writes about food and family but also has addressed the events that landed her in the news.

A June 7 post reads in part, “I started this year super excited and happy and flexible and hopeful. Then I got a particularly malicious group of students (again, no, not ALL of them, but evidently enough to strip the lustre from the positive feelings above) who decided to make it their business to try to ruin me.”

And a post from July 19 slams the Central Bucks School District’s recently approved contract with its teachers.

Munroe pointedly criticized a new proviso under which teachers would be terminated if they received two “unsatisfactory” ratings on their annual reviews.

“It seems like an awfully easy way to save money if there's a district shortfall, or to get rid of teachers who are at the top of the pay scale (or who are thorns in the district's sides),” Munroe wrote.

Munroe's old blog had about nine followers. Her new one?

664. And counting.

Ron Genini July 29, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Permit me to add a line or two even if I am from somewhere else. I am a retired teacher in Fresno, California, 35 years in the same high school. I have received numerous honors from the state and county as well as overwhelming endorsements by the parents of my students over the years. Nevertheless there were some parents who didn't like me because of my candor. There are kids who are stupid, kids who are mean, kids who should never let their shadows darken a classroom's door yet the public school system takes them in. I was told by the man who hired me many years ago that the public school was worse than a brothel (he used another word): it takes anyone who rings the doorbell, even if they can't pay or function properly. You'd better believe that this old teacher (and his wife) understand what that teacher was talking about - and on her own time and dime, her district didn't have a thing to say about it - or has the 1st amendment gone down the drain in one of the first states?
Barbara Hawley Berka July 29, 2011 at 05:35 AM
No one is censoring anyone. People are free to say whatever the hell they want but it may come back to bite them in the ass, as it has in the case of Ms. Munroe's blog. She made it clear that she is an insensitive boor who must resort to name calling and stoop to the level of a schoolyard bully with her extremely cruel and callous cartoon about children with disabilities. May her newborn child be blessed with no such problems. It's shocking to hear she is, of all things, an English teacher and even moreso that , she teaches advanced English. If this simplistic, insulting blog is the most creative way she can write about her experience as a teacher, she really needs to find another field of interest. It's also noticeable that many of the people defending her, completely ignore her despicable act of making fun of special needs kids..Where is the compassion for these students, who are certainly not unmotivated but rather brain injured? There is nothing wrong with a teacher trying to communicate her thoughts about her personal frustrations as a teacher,, to describe the lack of parental involvement she has observed, to, seek answers as to how to better motivate students.... but to make blanket assumptions about parents, call students insulting names, and pick on kids who did not ask to be born with cognitive impairments is is not a very intelligent way of getting her point across. It shows meanspiritedness, a lack of depth and is an insult to all good teachers.
Barbara Hawley Berka July 30, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Yet another defender who doesn't understand that some of this teacher's frustrations might have been heard had she been more respectful of others rather than insulting. This was not venting, it was tantruming. It's NOT that she doesn't have a right to feel overwhelmed with students who are disrespectful, who need extra help because of disabilities, or who need parents to be more involved..but it's the unprofessional manner in which she attempts to communicate her observations. She comes across as someone who is not concerned about the future of our children, but someone who despises them. I want my grandchildren, who are respectful and hardworking, to be taught be someone who is teaching for the love of the subject matter, the love of learning, the love of imparting knowledge, and someone who enjoys working with young people.. Believe me, teachers like this DO exist. I taught in such a school. The students were from tough backgrounds. Their actions were criticised,.but their dignity was not taken away with harsh words and name calling. Jerry Springer? Any person who would post a mocking comment about a brain injured child would fit the profile of a Jerry Springer audience member in my opinion! Ignorance, and bullying behavior is what you see on that show and she fits the bill. Not one person has said anything against the first amendment. Ignorant bullies have the right to say whatever they want..but in most professions, it will not be without consequence.
Barbara Hawley Berka July 30, 2011 at 04:30 PM
I worked with Rick Lavoie, a nationally and internationally known speaker and expert on children with learning disabilities. He would have a field day with Ms. Munroe. I'm sure by the time he finished with her, she'd be feeling about as small as some of these special needs chidlren feel when they are ridiculed by the likes of her.
Joyce Wilson August 04, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Sorry there are just too many comments to read all of them but wanted to add my two cents. I think this is a setup. When the superintendent, principal and school board found out they had no grounds in which to fire her they decided that any student not desiring to be in her classes would be allowed to select a different teacher. As of today I heard that there have been at least 50 students/parents that withdrew from her classes. So if things continue she will end up without any students and that is very easy for the 'leadership' to handle - release her from her position. No students = no job.

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