Fired Philly area teacher with controversial blog sues district

Conor Skelding, Yahoo! News
The Lookout

Natalie Munroe, a teacher at Central Bucks East High School in Doylestown, Pa., was fired Tuesday night after a long controversy over the content of her foul-mouthed, tell-all blog, "Where are we going & why are we in this hand basket." In it, the honors English teacher complained of "disengaged, lazy students" and of feckless faculty and administrators (and used plenty of profanity throughout). On Wednesday, she filed suit against the district for violating her right to free speech.

Munroe received national attention in February of last year, when she was suspended because of her blog. She returned to teach for the 2011-2012 academic year—but only due to her contract-stipulated employee rights. Dozens of students asked to be kept out of her classes, according to a press release from the school principal, Abe Lucabaugh, from last August.

"While something may be legally right, it may not be ethically or morally right," Lucabaugh wrote. "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."

When contacted by Yahoo News, Lucabaugh declined to comment.

His comments explicitly quoted vulgarities that "most media outlets chose not to report," the release said. Munroe addressed parents with phrases such as "I hate your kid," "Don't you know how to raise kids," and "Your child has no other redeeming qualities." Munroe described her students with epithets like "rat-like," and "utterly loathsome."

"My students are out of control," she fumed on her blog. "They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."

Munroe tried to keep her blog anonymous, signing her posts only as "Natalie M." and avoiding naming names. She did, however, include a picture of herself, which is how a student found the blog.

As for her firing, Steven Rovner, her attorney, told the Philadelphia Inquirer,"They brought her back to set her up to fail." Munroe asserts that she was beloved by her students, and unfairly fired over her blog, which Rovner said "is protected speech."

School board president Paul Faulkner said to the press, "Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, "Ms. Munroe was, at best, a satisfactory teacher, and was experiencing performance difficulties well before her blog became an issue."

In her most recent blog post, dated June 5, 2012, Munroe wrote: "The issue with my job is bigger than me. It's about freedom of speech. It's about having integrity and not compromising the truth. It's about the downward spiral of our education system and the low value that people place on education. It's about making people accountable. It's about standing up for personal beliefs and not apologizing when those beliefs aren't popular."