TOMS RIVER — Embattled Board of Education member Daniel Leonard will not seek re-election in November, but reaffirmed he will not resign before his term is up on Dec. 31.

Under pressure to step down after posting a link on his Facebook page to an article that said U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., called "for hunger strikes to end ICE" with the added personal caption, "My life would be complete if she/they die ..."

Leonard wrote on his campaign page he no longer wants to "compromise the integrity of the District or the amazing strides this team has made over the past three years."

The Beachwood resident refused to step down "because I will not compromise myself or my 1st Amendment Rights over the false narrative that terror support group CAIR and their supporters have waged upon me."

CAIR New Jersey, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Gov. Phil Murphy, and Board of Education President Joseph Nardini have all called for Leonard to quit over his posts. In his announcement, Leonard continued to deny that he called for anyone to die.

"I stand by the fact that if a Congress member chooses to partake in a politically motivated hunger strike while protesting a federal government entity such as ICE — I can care less if their end result ends up with the absence of a pulse," Leonard wrote in the announcement. "We are and will continue to be A Nation Of Laws! As an elected official, asking your fellow citizens to partake in a hunger strike is irresponsible for a federal legislator — end of discussion."

He also said in a post to his political Facebook page, screenshotting the earlier post, that the "Fake News is portraying my comment without actually showing the article it was attached to or the discussion that took place under it. As you can see, it was not a threat to kill Muslims .... My point is that if a US Congresswoman wants to starve herself to death during an Anti-Trump publicity seeking Faux Hunger Strike while protesting a Federal Agency Of The United States - GOOD RIDDANCE!"

Leonard also apologized to his supporters for "putting myself in this position" and said that his "style" that people love led to the end of their "collective mission." He thanked them for electing him and was confident in whoever would be elected to the seat.

Melissa Morrison and Alex Mizenko filed paperwork by Monday's deadline to run in November's election, according to the Asbury Park Press.

An online petition was posted by supporters of Leonard claiming he was the target of "a coordinated international campaign to disparage his integrity and fitness for his position on the school board by a group which government organizations have tied to known terrorists" had nearly 300 signatures on Tuesday morning.

A rally was planned at the next BOE meeting on August 21 in support of Leonard, according to the petition.

Leonard told the Press he and his family have received death threats since the posts received attention.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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