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Debate over teacher’s political blog heats up

By Staff | Jan 15, 2011

Councilmember Kevin McGrail is worried fellow council member Bill Deile has crossed the line in addressing a blog authored by Charter School employee Dave Montrose, which has publicly and repeatedly taken Deile and certain members of the city administration to task.
McGrail said Montrose’s rights under the First Amendment allow him to voice his opinion as he sees fit, as long as he is not using his position as a teacher to put the city charter system “in a bad light.”
“The key here is, if he’s not utilizing his position as a teacher to indoctrinate his students… then he’s more than entitled to do this as Dave Montrose, Cape Coral citizen,” McGrail said.
Deile said his goal of appraising charter system’s chief administrator Dr. Lee Bush was to get Montrose to “tone down his rhetoric” on his blog, Spotlight on Cape Coral.
Deile said he isn’t looking to get Montrose fired, nor does he feel he’s violated the city’s charter, as he hasn’t engaged anyone specifically on the charter school’s governing board regarding Montrose.
Deile also said he’s being “attacked by a cyber bully,” and that Montrose’s political musings are doing harm to the charter school system.
“I never knew who Montrose was until he started this stuff. I wouldn’t care if he wasn’t a teacher,” Deile said Friday.
Bush said a recent administrative issue voted on by the city’s charter school board that focused on terminations did not have to do with either Montrose or Deile.
Bush said he was “monitoring” Montrose’s blog, but has yet to find his actions unbecoming of a charter school employee.
“He has his constitutional right to express his opinion as a citizen. He’s doing this on his own time outside of school,” Bush said. “We’re monitoring what’s going on, but at this time point he’s within his right, at this time, in my opinion.”
Montrose maintains he has not violated any policies in his role as a teacher at Oasis Middle School by operating or writing the blog, where he says he “mines” news from other outlets for his site.
Montrose previously announced he would run for the District 3 council seat — Deile’s seat — but said he might rethink the run because of family obligations. He said his seven-month-old daughter and wife are “demanding his attention”, and that he is now “leaning away” from running.
The recent controversy has made his site more popular, he said,adding he will continue to post in a similar manner.
“I’m not going to change anything,” Montrose said. “The way I see it, if it’s drawing that much attention, I must be doing something right.”
Deile said he would continue to monitor the site and keep Dr. Lee Bush appraised of what he reads.
“If he feels the necessity to blog … I ask he be civil and act in the manner befitting a teacher,” Deile said. “I want him to fact check things before he puts them out there and not engage in subtle innuendo.”