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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Gahanna Lincoln senior starts movement to remove BOE member after controversial blog post

BOE President, Beryl Piccolantonio, calls comments made by Matthew Campbell are “indefensible that have no place in public conversation.”

GAHANNA, Ohio — While teachers remain on the side of South Hamilton Road in a fight against Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools, one student is taking on a fight of her own.

Haley Meheran is a senior at Gahanna Lincoln. She talked with 10TV Reporter Bryant Somerville, Thursday, with her mother’s permission.

The teachers strike wasn’t ideal for her senior year, but she says she understands it.

“Knowing that our teachers are out there fighting every day for the safest possible education for us is something I can find comfort in,” she said.

She knows both sides, the teachers and the district, are trying to reach the safest middle ground. What she doesn’t find comforting, she says, is a post made by the district’s board of education member Matthew Campbell.

“And then turning around and seeing one of the school board members is willing to sacrifice the lives of teachers and students and then call that protecting students is extremely disheartening,” Meheran said.

In early August, Campbell posted to his blog about two ways to stop COVID from flattening education. He wrote students need to return to the classroom and the district needs to return to full engagement with sports and activities.

He also says when it comes to possibly losing a teacher or student to COVID “that would be crushing, but it won’t change the nature of our community. We’ve lost precious children and teachers in past years and we are still family.”

Campbell also takes aim at what he calls “the unhealthy obsession with safety” and how it’s “costing our children greatly. I think we need more courage. We should refute COVID cowardice, stand up, and move towards normalcy. We should not fearfully hide in the corner any longer.”

With so much at stake right now concerning the strike and the pandemic, Meheran says she’s not comfortable with someone like Campbell having a say in a matter like student safety.

“Not at all,” she said. “No.”

In a statement to 10TV, Campbell wrote:

“I apologize to my colleagues on the school board and the community for putting them in this difficult position while we are trying to resolve a strike. I see how the post looks. I love our teachers and families and I’m not cavalier about their safety. My intent in August was to bring awareness to the concerning data we were seeing on depression, anxiety, drug use, and domestic abuse during the quarantine. I discussed those concerns in the preceding sections of the post. We are a strong community and I value every member.”

"I’m extremely concerned,” Meheran said.

Meheran has started a movement demanding the district to take action and for Campbell’s resignation.

“He should make an apology, but that doesn’t change who he is as a person or what his beliefs are based on,” she said.

10TV also received a statement from Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools Board of Education President Beryl Piccolantonio about the matter that says:

“We share our school community’s concern about Mr. Campbell’s comments on his personal blog, and we will be addressing this with him. His comments are not reflective of our Board’s position on these difficult issues, and they are indefensible statements that have no place in public conversation.”