Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

More than 200 students ask out of blogging teacher's classes

Number of students assigned to Natalie Munroe's three classes at Central Bucks High School East is changing daily, one week before school starts.

More than 200 students ask out of blogging teacher's classes

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Natalie Munroe (Bill Reed)

More than 200 Central Bucks High School East students have requested to be kept out of controversial teacher Natalie Munroe’s classes one week before school starts, a district spokeswoman said Tuesday.

That’s more than double the 90 or so students who have been assigned to her 11th grade Honors English and Academic English classes and her Debate class. Spokeswoman Carol Counihan could not say how many students were still assigned to Munroe, because the number keeps changing and probably would continue to do so until the first day of school.   

Munroe, whose blog posts calling students "frightfully dim," "whiny," and "utterly loathsome" prompted her suspension in February, will be returning to the school on Monday, along with 10th graders. Tuesday will be the first  day for the full student body of about 1,640, including 547 students in 11th grade.  

Students’ schedules were made available Thursday, and those who opted out of Munroe’s classes are being reassigned to the other 11 English teachers, Counihan said.

Munroe could not be reached for comment but has said she “will teach in an empty classroom if I have to.” And Superintendent N. Robert Laws has said the district has  “backup plans” if Munroe does not have enough students to conduct her classes, though he declined to elaborate.

Principal Abe Lucabaugh has said that all requests to opt out of Munroe’s classes will be honored -- a policy reserved for “when egregious or unique factors are in play.” He called her blog posts about students, co-workers and adminstrators “unprofessional, disrespectul, and disturbing, partcularly coming from the heart of an educator.”

Munroe has maintained that she posted her comments on a private blog read by her husband and seven friends and that she did not identify students, the school or the district. She called herself Natalie M and posted her photo on the blog, titled, Where are we going & why are we in this handbasket.  

She was suspended with pay within a day of students finding the blog and spreading its contents on Facebook. Two weeks later, she went on unpaid maternity leave.

Munroe was reinstrated at the high school in Doylestown because  “all parties will be best served by containing the issue and monitoring the known environment,” Lucabaugh has said. “We will not condone shifting a toxic situation to another building and creating a maelstrom there.”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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