Columbia Heights school board member quitting over Muslim Facebook post

Published 9:26 am Friday, October 16, 2015

By Christopher Magan

St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Columbia Heights school board member under fire for an offensive comment about Muslims on his Facebook page plans to step down Tuesday.

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Grant Nichols said in a statement that he agreed to quit the school board after meeting with leaders of the Muslim community and local lawmakers.

“I take responsibility for the online Facebook comment about some of my co-workers at my full-time job in Chanhassen that was offensive to the Muslim community,” Nichols said. “I apologize to them all for the hurt it caused.”

He added that he wanted to “end the turmoil” surrounding the district he cares about.

“Let’s get back to moving forward with progress for all individuals in Columbia Heights Public Schools,” Nichols said.

Nichols has said someone sabotaged his cellphone and posted a comment calling Muslims’ bathroom habits “unsanitary.”

The school district said Nichols met Monday with Superintendent Kathy Kelly and indicated he planned to resign at the end of Tuesday’s regular school board meeting, but also indicated he would not turn in a resignation letter until the meeting starts.

With that in mind, the district said in a statement, Nichols’s resignation has been tentatively placed on the meeting’s agenda.

“The District is not prepared to comment further until Member Nichols’ Letter of Resignation has been received and addressed as an action item at the … School Board meeting,” the statement said.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota said the organization accepted Nichols’ explanation for the comments and his apology.