The Bucks County high school teacher whose blog drew national attention for calling students "frightfully dim" and "utterly loathsome" was fired Tuesday for "unsatisfactory performance."
Natalie Munroe, an 11th-grade English teacher at Central Bucks High School East for six years, was dismissed by a 7-0 vote of the school board. The board followed the administration's recommendation, based on a year of class observations and evaluations that Munroe's lawyer has called retaliatory.
"Ms. Munroe was, at best, a satisfactory teacher and was experiencing performance difficulties well before her blog became an issue," the board's president, Paul Faulkner, said, reading from a statement.
Seeking to keep her job, Munroe filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, claiming the school district violated her constitutional right to free speech "by harassing and retaliating against her." The alleged retaliation was for her blog posts labeling some students as "ratlike," "tactless," and "dunderheads."
The posts by "Natalie M" were meant to be anonymous and did not name the school, students, or colleagues, but they included her photograph.
Her dismissal "has nothing to do with free speech," Faulkner said, "but rather [the board's] obligation to have satisfactory teachers in its classrooms."
Munroe's performance was monitored and observed the same as other teachers' performance was, he said.
Munroe's lawyer, Steven Rovner, said the board's action was expected.
"They brought her back to set her up to fail," Rovner said. "That's why we filed the lawsuit against the district."
Munroe was suspended for the blog posts in February 2011, after word of them spread on Facebook and other social media.
Officials reinstated her last summer, citing her legal right to work, but rejected her request for a transfer to one of the district's two other high schools. In an unusual move, students were allowed to opt out of her classes, leaving her with abnormally small classes.
Starting in October, administrators conducted "unannounced observations of Munroe's classes," according to her lawsuit.
After four unsatisfactory classroom evaluations, Munroe was ordered to submit daily lesson plans, according to the suit.
On June 1, she received her third unsatisfactory performance evaluation - two are grounds for dismissal - and was told of the administration's plans to recommend her termination, according to the suit.
Munroe, who has done limited blogging since last year's uproar, responded in a post, "I've been set up."
". . . Though it will surely be implied otherwise, I know the truth, my colleagues know the truth, my students and their parents know the truth. I stand by my work this year, and every year before."
The Central Bucks Education Association filed a grievance with the district to protect Munroe's contractual rights, union president Keith Sinn said Monday.