Spring Grove board appoints former teacher to replace Matt Jansen

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

The Spring Grove Area school board voted Monday, Sept. 25, to appoint a retired district school teacher to replace controversial former board member Matthew Jansen.

Spring Grove school board member Karen Baum took her seat on the board after being sworn in Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.

Karen Baum was nominated and approved unanimously by the school board during a regular voting meeting Monday night, according to Suzanne Sterner, secretary to district Superintendent David Renaut.

After the vote, Baum was sworn into office by Sterner and immediately took a seat on the school board.

She abstained from all action items, according to board secretary George Ioannidis.

Baum was one of three applicants for the position.

More:Spring Grove board interviews candidates vying for Jansen seat

More:Spring Grove board president thanks Jansen, also notes 'distraction'

More:Controversial Spring Grove school board member resigning

She holds a bachelor of science in education from Elizabethtown College and a master's in education from Johns Hopkins University.

Baum taught for 35 years at New Salem Elementary School in Spring Grove.

She also worked for the Spring Grove Scholarship Fund for seven years and continues to score applications for the organization.

During her public interview on Sept. 12, Baum said she believes the district has room to improve when it comes to its public image.

“I’d like to see Spring Grove promoted more as a terrific school district,” she said. “I don’t think the residents and the citizens understand (the) exciting things that happen within the walls of our schools.”

Replacing Jansen: Jansen left the school board in August after announcing he would be moving out of the district to a new residence in Dallastown.

Calls for Jansen to resign started in June 2016 after he left a critical voicemail message on the phone of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown.

In the voicemail, he blasted a sign on the church’s property wishing a “blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors.”

Jansen called the sign “unbelievable” and “despicable” and called Islam a “godless,” “pagan” religion.

In February, a tweet posted on Jansen’s account in response to a Breitbart article stated, “Well than this wetbacks family should be thrown out of the country.”

Spring Grove School District board member Matthew Jansen's Twitter reportedly posted this early Monday morning. Screenshot courtesy Amy Gunzelman.

The tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted.

Jansen has repeatedly claimed he was hacked at the time of the tweet. He said he did not file a police report but changed his password.

When reached by phone for comment, Jansen said he was glad someone with years of experience at the district took his seat on the board.

He particularly praised Baum's tenure at New Salem Elementary School, saying his daughter had an “excellent experience” at the school.

“If she’s coming from (New Salem), then she’ll be good for the students,” Jansen said.

He added that he hopes Baum will continue his stance of fiscal conservatism on the board.

“The elimination of school property taxes has not been handled yet by our Legislature, and the people of York County desperately want that changed,” he said. “I would ask her to please keep that in mind.”

Requests via email seeking comment from board members were not immediately returned.