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Bucks teacher: Students are ‘rude, disengaged, lazy whiners’

She wished in her personal blog that she could call students "ratlike," "frightfully dim," or "dunderheads" on their report cards.

She wished in her personal blog that she could call students "ratlike," "frightfully dim," or "dunderheads" on their report cards.

But administrators at Central Bucks High School East wish she had never said anything at all.

Principal Abram Lucabaugh assured students at an assembly Thursday that the blog posts English teacher Natalie Munroe made did not reflect the attitude of the school's faculty.

"The sentiments are in no way representative of how we feel about our students or how the teachers and faculty feel about them," he said. "This is a representation from one individual."

Munroe's blog - especially her posting wishing she could leave report card comments that more accurately reflected her negative opinions of students - circulated this week among students at the Doylestown high school.

Administrators suspended her Wednesday, and they continue to investigate her writings and whether she used district time or equipment to craft them.

"My students are out of control," she said in one post dated Oct. 27, 2009. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners."

Munroe, who has taught at the high school since 2006, could not be reached for comment Thursday. District officials said she did not deny writing the posts.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association also declined to comment on Munroe's case, saying the group might be called to intervene.

However, a spokesman pointed to the organization's website, which advises teachers to think carefully before sending any Web posting.

"Make sure you would gladly show it to the following people: Your mother. Your students. Your superintendent," the site says.

Munroe's blog, which was taken down Wednesday, reflected on her work at the school in between musings about television chefs, muffins, and her New Year's resolutions.

Although she frequently criticized students in general, she never mentioned any specific teenager in any of the posts reviewed by The Inquirer.

Lucabaugh, however, described the tenor of her comments as unacceptable and possible grounds for firing.

In one sketch posted on the blog, an image of a bus tagged "Short Bus" appears under the slogan, "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."

The post that drew the most attention was a Jan. 21, 2010, screed in which Munroe said she felt limited by the "canned" responses available to comment on student report cards. Saying that for some kids her "scornful feelings reach such a fever pitch," she wished for alternatives such as "dresses like a streetwalker," "shy isn't cute in 11th grade; it's annoying," and "just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?"

Administrators learned of the blog earlier this week as students discovered it and quickly began passing it around. One even created a Facebook group under the title "Join if you've ever felt personally victimized by Natalie Munroe."

While the Central Bucks School District does not have any written policy on personal Internet postings, it advises new teachers about acceptable Internet use and how to clean up their personal Facebook and social-networking accounts, Lucabaugh said.

Munroe's case is only the latest to bring into question how far employees can be held accountable for their online presence.

Monday, a Connecticut ambulance company settled a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board over the firing of a former employee who criticized her boss on her Facebook page.

The filing was the first by the board to assert that companies may be violating the law by disciplining workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.

In Montgomery County, the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, an all-girls private school in Villanova, dismissed English teacher Elizabeth Collins in April for, among other incidents, posting critically about a student's in-class presentation on her personal blog.

Munroe's case stands out, though, Central Bucks administrators said, because in at least one post she seems to admit to writing during school hours.

"Teachers and educators are held to a high standard," Lucabaugh said.