Walkout at Columbia Heights HS protests anti-Muslim comment on Facebook


The entire student body of Columbia Heights High School walked out of class Wednesday morning – along with many faculty members and the principal – to protest a recent Facebook comment disparaging Muslims that appeared on the account of school board member Grant Nichols.

The students were also upset that the school board did not remove Nichols from office or censure him at its Tuesday night meeting, according to MPR News.

The comment appeared on Nichols' Facebook account in early September, criticizing the bathroom habits of Muslims and calling them "unsanitary." The comment has since been deleted, but MPR News' online report includes a screen capture of the comment.

Nichols has denied writing it, and has said he thinks someone at his workplace used his phone to post the comment. He also said he disagrees with the sentiment, according to MPR.

The walkout lasted about half an hour, and students and staff resumed classes at about 10 a.m.

A large crowd attended Tuesday night's school board meeting to urge members to remove Nichols from the panel, the Star Tribune reports.

Three board members voted to do so, but the motion required four votes so Nichols remains on the board. He did not attend the meeting.

Students said Wednesday they will continue pressing for Nichols' removal from the board, and some said they plan to attend the next regularly scheduled school board meeting on Tuesday to make their case.

MPR News notes that the enrollment of Columbia Heights High School is about 75 percent students of color.

The school board has one open seat which will be filled early next year, and Muslim leaders say they hope someone from their community will be chosen, the Star Tribune notes.

Applications for the vacant seat are still being accepted, school officials say.

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