MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Columbia Heights school board member faced dozens of people calling for his resignation Tuesday night.

Grant Nichols is accused of posting an anti-Muslim comment from his Facebook account.

“They are just unsanitary by bringing water into a bathroom and making a mess,” he wrote. “Besides washing their feet, armpits, in the sinks in the bathrooms. They leave it a mess and no one says anything about that?”

A special meeting was held last week to address the comments. The board fell one vote short of removing him.

In the days that followed, students and teachers protested.

Governor Mark Dayton even visited the school, telling students he thought Nichols should resign.

On Tuesday night the school board voted 3-2 to ask Nichols to resign. The motion was non-binding and its unclear what Nichols will choose to do. Nichols was one of two board members who abstained from the vote.

Last week Nichols was not at the meeting, but he attended Tuesday night.

Ahead of the meeting, teachers marched along 49th Avenue in Columbia Heights toward the high school, calling for Nichols to resign from the school board.

“Our community cannot begin to heal until he steps down and chooses to value our district’s strength and our students’ success over his pride,” said Alexander Jacques, the vocal music teacher at Columbia Heights High School.

The teachers continued chanting outside the packed board meeting, which started with a lengthy public forum featuring nearly 50 speakers.

“It really baffles me and hurts me to hear an individual give such scrutiny against one’s culture,” said Lizzy Lentz, a high school senior.

“Meet with our community and we’ll work with you to educate you about Islam and Muslims, and there will be a day for Grant Nichols to lead this community, but it is not today,” said Jaylani Hussein, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

One speaker supported Nichols staying.

“When it comes time to re-election, people can have their say then, but for now, you stay here,” he said.

Kate Raddatz

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