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MASD students weren’t part of political conspiracy: Tom Mehaffie

Posted 3/27/18

Matt Krajsa continues to believe students at Middletown Area School District were pawns in some sort of grand political conspiracy, and he couldn’t be more wrong.

Just like at Derry, Lower …

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MASD students weren’t part of political conspiracy: Tom Mehaffie

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Matt Krajsa continues to believe students at Middletown Area School District were pawns in some sort of grand political conspiracy, and he couldn’t be more wrong.

Just like at Derry, Lower Dauphin, Central Dauphin and hundreds of other schools across the nation, groups of students were motivated to participate in social activism on March 14, in remembrance of the victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. They sought to take a stand about gun violence, school safety, mental health and many other topics of importance to them.

After the school board meeting held March 6, I was informed that student leaders had chosen to write letters to me as part of their demonstration. The students chose this assignment as a way to ensure those participating in the walkout were doing so for the right reasons, and not simply to cut class. Those student leaders also recognized that to impact change on any social, economic or public policy issue, one must take an active role in their government. I commend the students for taking this initiative and the teachers and administrators for encouraging it.

I had no role in the decision to write letters. I also would not have prevented Middletown students or any other student in the 106th District from contacting me about an issue for which they are passionate. I appreciate any opportunity to hear from my constituents on any issue in any forum, whether it’s a meeting in my office, an email, a phone call or a letter.

I was elected to represent the 106th Legislative District and the voices of more than 62,000 individuals, including the students who attend Middletown Area School District. Part of my job as a state representative is to be engaged in what is happening at each and every school in my district. Yes, I have met with Dr. Lori Suski. I have also met with the superintendents of Derry Township, Lower Dauphin, Central Dauphin and Dauphin County Technical School.

When we meet, I listen. I listen to the concerns of the students, teachers, school board members and administrators. I do not, under any circumstance, directly advocate my political views to public school students. In fact, when I do get to talk to school students, whether during tours at the Capitol or when teachers invite me to speak to civics classes, I encourage them to express their viewpoints — whatever they may be — and to take an active role in government at every level.

Krajsa continues to claim his actions are in defense of the students, but unfortunately they are coming across as his personal grievances directed at me and my family. I am disappointed he continues to make baseless accusations about us in the Opinion section of the newspaper instead of discussing them directly with me. As a result, Middletown students who took part in an exercise of social activism are seeing their thoughtful demonstrations met with divisive rhetoric and that is unfair. Instead of attacking their decision to focus on mental health and school security in the papers, they should be praised.

I plan to read every letter written to me by the Middletown students and to take their concerns into consideration when voting on legislation in Harrisburg. They have a voice in what happens in our country, state and communities, and I’m proud to represent students who are using their voices for so much good.

State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, represents the 106th Pennsylvania House District. Reach him at 717-534-1323 or tmehaffie@pahousegop.com.