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Elmwood Park school board community member accused of anti-Muslim sentiment speaks out

Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 21:51:51-04

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J.— School board members and students have called for the resignation of Elmwood Park School Board Trustee Gladys Gryskiewicz— but she is holding her ground despite criticism of her comments of Facebook.

“We cannot allow Islam to take over,” she posted in February, “Stay in your desserts and follow your religion in your own countries.”

Gryskiewicz did not deny that she posted the comments in an exclusive interview with PIX11.

“I don’t feel that I did anything wrong,” she said.

An Elmwood Park student started a petition against Gryskiewicz— over 600 people have signed on.

“I was personally offended along with many other students of Elmwood Park,” said Humza Yousuf, a senior at Elmwood Park Memorial High School and a Muslim, “This is the United States of America. There isn’t one national religion, all religions are welcome in America. All colors are welcome in America.”

Screenshots of other alleged posts by Gryskiewicz called for President Obama to be sent “back to Africa with his true Muslim family" and for him to follow the French who “told [Muslims’] to get lost. This is what our President should be emulating."

"Unfortunately, Trustee Gryskiewicz has given the Elmwood Park School District a “black eye,”,” said David Warner, the Elmwood Park Administrators Association President, "If she truly cares about the district, its staff, and students, she will resign, so we can heal and move on from this issue.”

The New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has also called for Gryskiewicz to step down. Gryskiewicz told PIX11 that she has no plans to resign.

“I have no disrespect for Muslims,” she said, “I could have used better wording but it wasn’t towards the Muslim community, it was towards this woman.”

Gryskiewicz claimed that her comments were in response to a news article which stated that a Muslim woman had disrespected the National Anthem.

“I don’t care who it is. If you disrespect America, it upsets me,” she said, "I’m sorry for the wording. Yes, it could have been better, but I didn't mean any hatred. I just want to get that across. I don’t hate anyone."

Gryskiewicz was elected to the Elmwood Park School Board in November.

Students at the high school are planning a walk out ahead of the next board meeting, which is scheduled for April 26.

Gryskiewicz, who said she remained silent at the last meeting, plans to speak at next week. She did not promise an apology.