COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. (KMSP) - He initially said he wouldn't, but Columbia Heights school board member Grant Nichols will be stepping down on Tuesday after being accused of making degrading comments towards Muslims on Facebook, according to a news release from CAIR-MN and Minnesota Rep. Carolyn Laine.
Rep. Laine said she met with Nichols on Friday, where he said he would resign. She added Nichols took "full responsibility" for the controversial Facebook post , but showed a notarized letter of a coworker who claimed authorship. Ahmed AL-Beheary of the National Egyptian American Society, also attended that meeting, and said all parties agreed not to pursue the person who signed the notarized letter.
“This district has been an important part of my whole life. I have loved being a part of it, and I’m glad for the ways I was able to make it better, both as an active community member and in my short time on the school board. 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. I apologize to them all for the hurt it caused. I care very much about the students of this district; so in order to end the current turmoil for the good of the district and its students, I will resign on Tuesday, October 13, 2015. Let’s get back to moving forward with progress for all individuals in Columbia Heights Public Schools," Nichols said in his resignation letter.
The Columbia Heights school board voted in September to approve a resolution urging his resignation. At the public forum, 52 people spoke up about the incident; 50 opposing his status on the board, two in favor.
Principals of all Columbia Heights schools read the resolution for Nichols to resign for allegedly making several anti-Muslim comments on a Star Tribune Facebook post on Sept. 6, calling them “unsanitary.”
After the vote, he told media after the meeting he had no interest in stepping down, and contended he did not even publish the offensive Facebook post in question.
“We accepted Mr. Nichols’ letter indicating that the comment was not his and that someone had maliciously sabotaged his mobile device. We have accepted his apology and applaud his efforts to be an advocate to Muslims everywhere and especially in Columbia Heights. We have also accepted the resignation as an additional sign of good faith. It’s important to understand that Muslims are Americans as well and they deserve the same rights and responsibilities," said Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR-MN.
“Any of us may be surprised by different cultural or religious ways of doing things, but our response can be to seek understanding rather than reaction. And the community’s response can be to seek immediate apology and resolution with those hurt. These Muslim leaders practice and welcome this approach," Rep. Laine said.
Columbia Heights Schools statement
The District has not received a Letter of Resignation from Member Grant Nichols. Member Nichols met with Superintendent of Schools Kathy Kelly the morning of Monday, October 12, 2015 and at that time he indicated his intention to resign from the Columbia Heights School Board at the completion of the Tuesday, October 13, 2015 Regular School Board meeting. Member Nichols indicated that he would not turn in a Letter of Resignation to the School District until after his October 13, 2015 Press Conference, but would do so before the start of the October 13, 2015 Regular School Board meeting. With this information in mind, Member Nichols’ resignation has been tentatively placed on the October 13, 2015 School Board Regular agenda as an action item. 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 October 13, 2015 School Board meeting.