Principal Abe Lucabaugh's statement
Test of remarks by Central Bucks High School East Principal Abe Lucabaugh about Natalie Munroe's return to work.
Principal Abe Lucabaugh's statement
Central Bucks School District
Principal Abe Lucabaugh’s statement regarding Mrs. Natalie Munroe
August 3, 2011
Good morning, and thank you for attending this media briefing.
On August 29th, 2011, Natalie Munroe will return to teach
English at Central Bucks High School East. While her actions
have created an unfortunate and incredibly difficult situation,
Mrs. Munroe maintains employee rights, and that is the sole
reason for her return.
My intent this morning is to explain the circumstances of her
return, the damage she has created, and the moral and ethical
implications of her actions.
On February 8th, 2011, a blog written by Natalie Munroe, a
teacher at Central Bucks East, was discovered by students. In
a matter of hours, the blog had gone viral. As word spread of
Mrs. Munroe’s comments, students and faculty were buzzing
in disbelief that a teacher could post such shockingly profane
That morning, I asked Mrs. Munroe if she authored the statements.
She said yes. Believing that her presence would further
incite an increasingly volatile situation, I concluded that
her continued presence in the building would be counterproductive.
In the ensuing days and weeks, the story of Natalie Munroe’s
blog and the questions about her right to free speech attracted
national and international interest. There was widespread
media coverage of this incident as the teacher openly shared
the matter with the media. Most media outlets published segments
of her blog for public consumption. Speculation was rampant
about the validity of her statements, her right to state them,
and the ethical and moral implications attached to her decision.
Most media outlets chose not to report the most graphic descrip‐
tions Mrs. Munroe employed in her blog. One news organization
even stated that they could not include content in their publica‐
tion that would cross the boundaries of good taste. Instead,
phrases like “my students are lazy, disengaged whiners” and
“grade grubbers” and “complainers” were published. While
those particular descriptions of students were not viewed as
egregious in the public eye, the public did not have access to the
full blog and the darker, more profane statements and images
about students, parents and coworkers that it contained, images
that raise questions about the level of professionalism, integrity,
and ethical conduct that is expected to exist in the field of educa‐
Copies of Mrs. Munroe’s blog pertaining to students are available
this morning. Whether media outlets choose to unveil the full
contents of her blog to the public or not, phrases like “I hate your
kid,” “don’t you know how to raise kids” “your child has no other
redeeming qualities,” “lazy a‐‐hole,” a “sneaky jerk‐off,” “an argumentative f‐‐‐,” “ rat‐like” “utterly loathsome,” “sh—wad” “and “frightfully dim” evoke shock and hurt. Coupled with a graphic that shows students sittng on a shortened school bus with the
phrase “I don’t care if you lick windows, take the special bus or
occasionally pee on yourself … you hang in there sunshine, you’re
special” cut deep into the hearts of the students Natalie Munroe
taught, including those with special needs, AND the families who
entrusted their children to her care and mine. This was their
Mrs. Munroe also took the opportunity to describe her colleagues,
her building administrators, and even central administrators, in
Whether or not Mrs. Munroe had the legal right to express her
views with such vitriol is not the heart of this issue. No one here
is contending that she can’t say these things … legally. And for
that reason, she has a legal right to return.
What is at the heart of this issue, however, is the large‐scale disruption her comments created, and the ensuing damage they have caused the young men and women to whom she was alluding. Natalie Munroe’s actions placed the outstanding work that
occurs in our school in question, placed my leadership in question, placed our students’ merit in the crosshairs of national scrutiny, breached trust with the community and compromised her
professional integrity. Her comments were unprofessional, disrespectul, and disturbing, partcularly coming from the heart of an educator. Moreover, and most importantly, they were crass and CRUEL.
The obvious question left unanswered as the school year ended
was whether or not Mrs. Munroe would be returning to teach in
the fall. I should point out here that her maternity leave ends
this month, and regardless of the moral and ethical issues surrounding
her actions, Mrs. Munroe maintains employment rights.
On June 28th, the district sent Mrs. Munroe a letter via registered
mail asking her to contact us. A��er no response, the district sent
a series of letters in the second week of July via Fed Ex, again asking
her to contact us.
On July 27th, Mrs. Munroe finally made contact with the district …
and confirmed receipt of all the materials we previously sent.
Despite the fact that Mrs. Munroe retains legal employment
rights, I would hope none of us lose sight of the real issue.
The real issue is that while something may be legally right, it may
not be ethically or morally right. There are consequences that occur
when a person chooses to exercise her rights and say outrageous,
disrespectful, vulgar and cruel things about other people …
especially when it’s a teacher saying terrible things about the
young men and women who are in her classroom.
As a public school, we are charged with meeting the needs of every
student who enters our door, rich or poor, gifted or learning
disabled, troubled or triumphant, and guiding them to their full
potential so they receive the most precious gift an education can
provide: opportunity for choice in life.
What pains me the most in all of this is how the statements made
by Mrs. Munroe have placed our students in the line of fire, and
caused a nation to question their collective merit.
Today, I want to set the record straight about who our students
I want to set the record straight about who we are as a school
Central Bucks East is a phenomenal high school and an exceptional
environment for our young men and women to develop their
gifts. The strength of CB East lies in its people: our stellar faculty
and our remarkable students.
1,640 students attend CB East. They are a mixture of privileged
and not as privileged, well‐adjusted and not, highly intelligent
and highly challenged. They are complex. At times they are unpredictable.
They long for acceptance. They seek clarity and inspiration. They look to us for guidance and stability. Let’s remember that they are adolescents on the cusp of adulthood … and remarkable ones at that.
Last school year, 100% of the senior class graduated. All 543 students
earned their diploma.
94% of those students are continuing their education at a college
or university, a trend that has held steady for the past decade.
Each year, many of our students gain admission to some of the
most competitive instutions in the nation, including Yale, Harvard,
Princeton, Penn, Cornell, West Point, the Naval Academy,
and a plethora of others.
This past year, 230 students graduated with a minimum GPA of
3.5 or higher, and 67 graduated with a GPA of 4.1 or higher.
The average SAT score of Central Bucks East students is over 169
points higher than the national average, and 209 points higher
than the Pennsylvania average.
CB East students score in the top 1% in the state on standardized
assessments taken by students in each of the 600+ high schools
I share these facts with you not to brag, but rather, to demonstrate the incredible achievement of our students, and the opportunities our teachers create for them.
Beyond academics, our students participate in more than 60
clubs and activities in addi��on to our extensive athletic, musical
and theatrical programs.
Come see one of our theatrical productions. Last year we did a
version of Les Mis that was magnificent. Come watch our band
and choir concerts – hear our students perform, and see the passion
of our instructors. Come to our art shows and see what our
students produce. If you were to spend time in our classrooms,
you would see the quality of education our teachers facilitate.
Beyond all this, our students and their families are inherently
good. I can speak for hours on end about their small acts of kindness.
Their willingness to lend a hand in ways that don’t garner attention.
Their support and encouragement of one another as friends and classmates.
Their generosity is heart‐warming. Last year, CB East students
logged more than 6,000 hours of community service in activities
that reached out to the community and the nation, as well as our
troops serving overseas, meeting a host of needs. Events like toy
drives, prom dress collections, book donations for tornado ravaged
areas, teens for jeans, support of women’s shelters, shoes
for third world nations, food drives and more are commonplace.
Our students never stop seeking ways to use their talents in service
And our faculty is right there with them, modeling, assisting, supporting.
I know that what I’ve just shared is lengthy, yet I want you to
know that these are the students, and the school community, Natalie
Munroe wrote about. This is the CB East she contends is
filled with frightfully dim, utterly loathsome students.
No school is perfect … every school has issues, yet CB East is unquestionably a quality place for students to learn and grow.
That’s why NEWSWEEK magazine has ranked CB East as one of
the best comprehensive high schools in the nation for the past
four years running.
That’s why our community is proud of our school, and grateful for
the partnership we enjoy.
That’s why I would place my students up against any in the nation. Likewise for my hard‐working and dedicated faculty.
That’s why I am so proud to be my students’ principal. I believe
that each of our young men and women is blessed with unique
gifts, and it is our responsibility to create an environment that
fosters those gifts.
An environment that uplifts and connects with students.
An environment that values and respects the whole child.
As educators, we have a professional and moral responsibility to
mold our students into what they can become, not mock them
for who they are. That’s what Mrs. Munroe failed to understand.
That’s what is so utterly disappointing.
That’s why Mrs. Munroe’s decision to write what she did, coupled
with her recent statement that she will not apologize for speaking
truth, is in such diametric opposition to the actual truth of
who we are, where we are going, and how we’ve ended up here.
Mrs. Munroe retains the right to return to her position, yet in exercising
her right to speak and by blatantly refusing to apologize
for her actions, she has created an unenviable position for herself.
By exercising her right to speak, she has sacrificed her respect,
her professionalism, and her ethical standing as an educator,
role model, and mentor for students. And no matter where
she goes now, no matter where she intends to teach, that is unavoidable
… and as such, Mrs. Munroe has no choice but to assume
responsibility for her actions.
The question of returning this teacher to her classroom versus
moving her to another school has been considered. Since this
situation has received so much media attention and coverage,
and the entire community is fully aware of the situation, it has
been concluded that relocating the teacher would be both irresponsible
and further disruptive. It is the decision of this district
that all parties will be best served by containing the issue and
monitoring the known environment at her current school. We
will not condone shifting a toxic situation to another building and
creating a maelstrom there.
On August 29th, our students return to East. And Natalie Munroe,
who continues to stand by her comments, says she will as
All of this begs the question: what is the right thing for the district
to do? The decision to do the right thing does not rest with
the Central Bucks School District. Mrs. Munroe is afforded legal
employment rights. The decision to do the right thing lies in the hands of the person whose very hands created this controversy: Mrs. Munroe.
My focus will forever be on creating a dynamic learning environment
for all students at East and, to that end, I look forward
to welcoming our students back to our school. While
Mrs. Munroe’s actions have created a controversy that no
one deserved, we will continue to provide the high quality
education all of our students deserve. My task as a leader is
to guide our school and our students through this, and I will
do that. Better yet, we’ll do it together. It’s what makes us strong. It’s what makes us CB East.
I am sure many of you have questions. At this tme, I will be
joined at the table by the president of the CBSD Board of Directors,
Mr. Paul Faulkner, and the Superintendent of the
Central Bucks School District, Dr. N. Robert Laws, to address
your questions. Carol Counihan will serve as moderator.
Please know that while we will do what we can to answer
your questions, we cannot speak for this teacher, and will not
share information considered to be personal or proprietary.