Natalie Munroe's time as a teacher at Central Bucks East High School will apparently end because of her extremely unflattering blog posts about students that drew national attention.
"Ms. Munroe, by her own actions, has made it impossible for her to teach in this district," Superintendent Robert Laws said at Tuesday night's school board meeting. "No student should be subjected to such a hostile educational environment."
Munroe, an 11th-grade English teacher, was suspended with pay Feb. 9 when a blog she had written more than a year before was widely disseminated among students through Facebook and then came to school administrators' attention. When word got out, the story and debate went national.
Tuesday night's school board meeting provided a chance for the district administration, board members, and parents to respond. About 150 showed up.
Laws said that most news media had failed to report that besides the widely "unprofessional comments," Munroe also made a "direct attack on special-needs students."
Laws said Munroe had been scheduled for maternity leave at the end of February. During the leave, he said, the board will make a final decision on her employment.
In the now-infamous post, Munroe wrote that she would like to tell some parents that their children were "ratlike," "frightfully dim," "dunderheads," "whiny," "tactless," and "utterly loathsome in all imaginable ways," among other things. It has since been taken down, along with all others from before her suspension.
Many students and parents said previously they regard Munroe's remarks as an insult. Central Bucks East, part of a prosperous and high-achieving suburban district, is nothing like the school she portrayed, they said.
In an interview Monday night, Robert S. Sica, the junior class president at Central Bucks East said that "at our school, we have a 99 percent graduation rate and 92 percent go on to college. If you look at those statistics, I don't see how you can say our students don't value education. Yes, there are students who require some extra work, but this certainly isn't a school where kids aren't willing to learn."
Paul Calderaio of Buckingham Township was the only parent to speak at Tuesday's meeting, and he also pointed to Munroe's blog posts about special-needs students.
"I was quite shocked that a teacher, who is supposed to be in charge of children . . . would mock a group of children that were the most vulnerable," Calderaio said. He gave a general defense of freedom of speech, but added, "No one should be able to do that on the public dime."
Munroe defended herself in interviews after her suspension, saying that administrators routinely take the side of students and parents in disputes, failing to defend teachers, who, she said, are not listened to or respected. Students, she said, only respond well if a teacher puts on a "dog and pony show" for them. And, she said, students were more interested in getting an A than they were in learning.
Before the Munroe's identity and the contents of some of her posts became widely known, the blog had only a few viewers; Munroe identified herself only as Natalie M. and did not identify her school, students, or staff by name. Most of the posts on the blog, "Where are we going & why are we in this handbasket," are Munroe's observations about her daily life, not about school.
Munroe's views got national audience through television interviews, with some people saying she was simply telling the truth about an out-of-control situation where teachers don't get the support they need and spoiled students rule the schools.
School board member Stephen A. Corr debunked the idea that Munroe was seeking to spark a high-level discussion of education policy.
"While it is always fair to discuss educational reform . . . I suggest we pay less attention to the immature Internet rant of an inexperienced young woman who has spent less than eight semesters in a classroom," Corr said. "Natalie Munroe has made the most of her 15 minutes of notoriety. Now it's time to rebuild and move forward with the work of educating the children."