Embattled Columbia Heights school board member Grant Nichols is rejecting Gov. Mark Dayton’s suggestion that he step down after being linked to an offensive social media comment about Muslims.
Nichols posted a message on his Facebook page today, telling the governor he will not resign, and that he “will not be bullied by party politics for doing nothing.” He added that “local government should stay local government.”
Nichols has been under fire this month for a since-deleted comment from his Facebook account that described the bathroom habits of Muslim people as “unsanitary.” Nichols has denied writing the comment and claimed someone else used his phone.
Dayton yesterday visited Columbia Heights High School, where he praised students for staging a peaceful protest over the matter earlier in the week. He also told reporters that Nichols should resign or be forced to resign.
“There’s no place for that anywhere in Minnesota, but certainly not for a leader of a school district,” Dayton said.
In his response to Dayton, Nichols maintained that he did nothing wrong.
“No one should be guilty by assumption,” he wrote. “No one should be swept under the rug.”
Nichols also complained that the school district does not reflect the city’s population, because too many students who live in Columbia Heights are enrolled in other districts.
“Our community does not resemble our public schools,” he wrote. “You cannot push some people away and embrace only those that agree. We have to solve the problem together. Not abandon the problem and push the person away.”
Nichols went on to question the school district’s commitment to racial diversity.
“Why are a bunch of White Privileged people employeed at District 13? How many Muslim teachers, administrators, or staff are working in Columbia Heights Public Schools?How many people of color working at CHPS?”