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School board member tied to 'unsanitary' Muslim comment to step down

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After weeks of mounting pressure from citizens and officials, a school board member accused of writing an insensitive comment about Muslims appears set to step down.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent out a news release Monday morning saying the embattled council member, Grant Nichols, will resign from his post at a news conference Tuesday evening.

Nichols, who is a member of the Columbia Heights School Board, has been criticized for a comment made on Facebook in early September from his account. The post targeted the bathroom habits of Muslims and called them “unsanitary.”

It has since been deleted. (MPR News has a screengrab of the comment here.)

At a meeting with CAIR-MN last week, Nichols apologized for the comment and said he was going to resign, the organization said in the news release.

KARE 11 reports Nichols confirmed the decision with reporter Boua Xiong.

"We welcome Mr. Nichols' apology and resignation from the school board and wish him well in his future endeavors," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein in the release.

The Minnesota House of Representatives also sent out a press release, including a snippet from a letter Nichols wrote:

Nichols had denied writing the comment, and repeatedly said someone at his workplace used his phone to post the Facebook comment under his name.

Last month, Gov. Mark Dayton called on Nichols to step down; days later, dozens of people packed a school board meeting urging the same thing. The board then voted in favor of a resolution recommending Nichols step down.

Nichols, however, rejected both requests and said he'd stay.

A petition asking him to step down had accrued 375 signatures.

The news conference is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, outside the Columbia Heights School District offices.

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