Controversial Spring Grove school board member resigning

David Weissman
York Dispatch

Matthew Jansen knows he caused his fellow Spring Grove school board members and students in the district some unnecessary grief, which he regrets, but that's not why he's resigning.

"I brought some storm clouds on them that they didn't deserve," he said. "It was unintentionally; I was just being me."

Less than two years into a four-year term, Jansen said he will be resigning as he and his wife prepare to move out of the district and into the Dallastown Area School District.

Public comment regarding board member Matt Jansen during the Spring Grove school board meeting at the Educational Service Center in Spring Grove, Monday, March 6, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Several community members have been calling for Jansen to resign since June 2016, when he left a voicemail message on the phone of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown in response to the church's sign that wished a "blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors."

The Rev. Christopher Rodkey received the phone call from Jansen saying that he was "shocked" by the "despicable," "unbelievable" sign and that Islam is a "godless," "pagan" religion.

Rodkey suggested that Jansen, who served as a delegate for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where he voted for Donald Trump, was unfit for his duties on the school board after the comments.

Jansen apologized for his message and later accepted an invitation to dine with local Muslims at Hadee Mosque in Harrisburg.

Now that he'll be living closer to Rodkey's church, Jansen joked that he doesn't foresee its members holding a "ticker tape parade" in his honor.

Calls for his resignation re-emerged in February when this tweet appeared on Jansen's Twitter feed: “Well than this wetbacks family should be thrown out of the country.”

The tweet was in response to an article from Breitbart, a conservative news outlet, and was deleted soon after it was posted.

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Jansen has claimed his account was hacked, but he never filed a police report regarding the situation.

Jansen said serving as a school board member is very different than other elected positions because you're representing children, and he learned he needs to be more careful about what he says, particularly on social media.

Spring Grove high school student Amy Gunzelman, who helped organize numerous protests calling for Jansen's removal, said she was very happy he was leaving the board even though it wasn't for the reasons she protested.

Gunzelman, who will begin her senior year on Wednesday, Aug. 23, said she was organizing another rally to protest one of Jansen's recent tweets comparing protesters destroying Confederate statues to Nazis and ISIS. That protest will not be needed with his resignation, she said.

The constant protests were becoming tiring, she said, because it seemed like she and others were failing. But she's happy to have met a lot of great people. She hopes the work she and her fellow protesters did will prevent Jansen from being elected in the future.

Jansen said he loves the school district, and he's proud that he was able to vote against two tax increases during his time serving on the board, though both tax increases did pass.

Jansen also will have to withdraw from his position as a committeeman for the York County Republican Committee because he won't be in the same precinct, but he has no plans to leave the political arena completely.

He will explore his options as far as what positions are available once he gets settled into his new home in Dallastown, which is where he grew up, he said. He has no plans to ever leave York County, he added.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.