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.