Spring Grove board member won't resign
Eleven community members spoke out against Spring Grove school board member Matt Jansen over a controversial tweet during a board meeting Monday night.
After the meeting, Jansen said he will not resign over the situation, despite calls from community members for him to do so.
In February, Jansen, who also was an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention, reportedly tweeted, “Well than this wetbacks family should be thrown out of the country” in response to an article from Breitbart, a conservative news outlet. The tweet was deleted soon after it was posted.
Jansen has claimed his account was hacked, but he has not filed a police report regarding the situation.
Community members pointed out at Monday's meeting that his lack of action could mean he wasn’t hacked at all.
The meeting: The Spring Grove school board meeting room was standing-room-only with crowds of people who attended the meeting, many of whom carried signs such as “Jansen resign now” and “No place for hate.”
School board president Cindy Huber gave a statement before the public-comment portion of the meeting, explaining that the board can take no legal action to force a member to resign and that it is not the board's place to investigate the hack.
“The comments, whoever the author, in no way reflect the views or values of the school district,” she said.
Of the 12 total public comments, 11 were regarding Jansen’s tweets.
Among those who spoke was Amy Gunzelman, a Spring Grove High School junior who has addressed the board regarding Jansen four times beginning last summer, when Jansen came under fire for tweeting about a sign outside a church that wished Muslims a happy Ramadan.
Guzelman said it was obvious Jansen was not remorseful about the tweets.
“Bigotry has no place in making America great again,” she said to cheers and claps after her comment.
This statement was in reference to Jansen’s comment after the school board meeting on Feb. 20, when he said he only had one comment: “My whole attitude is just make America great again,” he said.
Resign: While many who spoke to the board said they understood the board could not legally remove Jansen, they requested that the board draft policies allowing them to do so in cases such as this.
Jansen’s board term ends in 2019.
Many also asked Jansen to step down voluntarily. Carla Christopher, equity coordinator for York County School of Technology, said she’s had students come to her at school saying they are glad they could escape Spring Grove School District by attending the tech school instead.
“I believe the only way to move forward is if this board member is kind enough and courageous enough to step down and let us move forward,” she said.
Community member Kelly Elliot echoed Christopher’s sentiment. She took the time to read the diversity statement to the board before saying that policies should be drafted by the board for situations such as this.
“Adjustments can be made. They’re not hard,” she said.
Many also pointed out that students and teachers are faced with negative repercussions for posting controversial and racist thoughts on their social media.
Tuesday Hayes, a community member with children in the district, argued that students are expected to maintain a certain level of conduct, and board members also must be accountable.
“Students are held to a high standard,” she told the board. “So should we all.”
Evidence: Jansen said after the meeting that he has evidence that would clear his name regarding the tweet, but he has only shown that evidence to friends and family. He is fearful the media will turn the evidence around. He said he has not filed a police report on the matter, and he has no plans to do so in the future.
He went on to say he had no response for the people who spoke out against him at the school board meeting.
"No one would call me a racist or bigot if they knew me," Jansen said. "That is a title that has never been thrown my way."
The board member said his tweets allow him to exercise his right to free speech in public places. He said he has no plans to voluntarily resign from his position on the school board because of this.
Jansen said he has learned from these incidents that he should "bite my tongue once in a while."
York Dispatch reporter Junior Gonzalez contributed to this article.