MIDDLEBURG, Pa. (AP) – A central Pennsylvania high school English teacher's side job as an author of racy romance novels written under a pen name has drawn criticism from some parents who say she needs to be more discreet about her work.
Midd-West High School teacher Judy Buranich has also drawn a large response on Facebook from supporters who say the books have been common knowledge for years, and that the well-respected Buranich does not bring that work into the classroom.
The issue surfaced after Wendy Apple of Middleburg and other parents told WNEP-TV on Tuesday that they were unhappy a teacher was associated with the content of the books and on the website of "Judy Mays," the apparent pen name for Buranich. A couple of former students told the station they were shocked.
Apple said she was told about the books within the last couple of months by students at the high school, where her son attends. She said she didn't believe it at first but researched the books and author online. She tried to set up an appointment with Buranich and then spoke with administrators.
Apple said she had been told by Superintendent Wesley Knapp during a meeting this week that he recently had been made aware of the books and was looking into the matter.
Apple said she was alarmed that a website for Judy Mays identified the author as an English teacher at a small public high school.
"She is teaching children that are under the age of 18 and definitely the books that she is writing are adult books," another parent, Deanna Stepp, told WNEP. "I think she needs to make a decision as to what she wants to do. Either be a school teacher or author."
Buranich declined interview requests Wednesday from The Associated Press. Knapp said he could not comment on personnel issues.
Buranich has been a teacher for 25 years, and Apple is one of her former students. Apple said she's not requesting that Buranich give up teaching or writing.
"She is one heck of a good school teacher. Period. She is," Apple told the AP on Wednesday. "What I would like to have done is her to be more discreet with things on her web pages. I don't care what she's writing in her books, but on her web pages, where our kids have access to, that needs to be more discreet."
According to one of Buranich's Facebook supporters, parents, students and teachers have known about Buranich's writings for more than two decades.
"She doesn't bring it into her classroom. It's not like something that's coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden," Trisha Carnahan Bingaman, whose two children and her husband were taught by Buranich, said in a phone interview. "This is a great teacher, and I've heard nothing but good comments.
"What a teacher does in her private time ... is nobody's business," Bingaman said.
Information from: WNEP-TV, http://www.wnep.com