Forsyth principal suspended for Facebook posts. Are these folks not aware of social media risks?

With the resignation Tuesday of a Department of Education official for racially incendiary Facebook posts and the suspension Thursday of the Lambert High School principal for posts about Muslims, welfare recipients and refugees, I have a question for educators: How do these high-ranking administrators not understand the dangers of social media?

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I thought the risks implicit in social media were made clear to everyone in education today. Both men were media savvy; Jeremy Spencer led the DOE’s virtual school, Gary Davison oversaw Lambert High, a top performing school in a district fluent and fluid in technology.

Forsyth Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said this morning Davison is on “an open-ended suspension…He made a mistake. He recognizes it and he has to work to regain the community’s trust.”

I asked Caracciolo about the district’s social media policies. She said the district had clear policies. Among those posted on the district’s website:

•Show respect for myself and others when using technology including social media.

•Any content staff members publish, pictures they post, or dialogue they maintain, whether in Facebook, Twitter, a blog, a discussion thread or other website should never compromise the professionalism, integrity and ethics in their role as a FCS professional. A good question that staff members should ask themselves before posting or emailing a message is, “Would I mind if that information appeared on the front page of the local newspaper?” If the answer is “yes,” then do not post it. Email and social networking sites are very public places.

My question: Apparently, Lambert High principal Davison accepted friend requests from former students, according to Caracciolo, which is what led to his controversial posts being brought to light and to the attention of media and the district. If you know former students are reading your Facebook page, doesn’t that demand even more vigilance?

Did Jeremy Spencer of DOE and Davison assume every reader of their Facebook posts would share their views? Is that a safe bet in Georgia for the most part? (That is what several teachers have told me this week, especially teachers from South Georgia.)

Are there still educators who have not cleaned up their act on social media?

To read what happened in Forsyth, go here.

A former student who took offense at the anti-Muslim postings on Davison’s Facebook posted a long rebuttal, which illustrates the damage the principal caused to his and the school’s reputation: “I believe you may remember my fleeting words once when we ran into each other: ‘I’m a fan of your work.’ I was moved by your speeches of Lambert’s acceptance and diversity and embrace of differences. I would like to formally and cordially apologize for saying that to you. I don’t know why I thought your words would reflect who you are, but a quick view of your public Facebook will show me why I was so ignorant…There is a greater and greater influx of minority students coming to the Forsyth County district. And if you take a look at your own statistics, you may have troubled thoughts when you see that many of the freshmen have the last name Khan. Your ideas are unacceptable.”

Another former student wrote: “You were the person who plastered signs about Lambert having diversity all over the school, while posting on your Facebook that Muslims were not allowed in the country. You approved an after-school group that brought people of different nationalities and races together and you talked about accepting everyone, then you shared posts about keeping Syrian refugees out of our country. ”

In a statement, Davison asked for forgiveness. “I offended many individuals and embarrassed our school,” he said. “I am committed to regaining our community’s trust.”

 

Reader Comments 0

72 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

I see where Davidson is back on the job after a six day suspension for not being politically correct.  Not a word from the AJC and Downey, who drug his name through the mud without an ounce of substantive journalism (i.e., post pictures of the so-called "offensive" posts and let us make up our own minds).


No, much better to print innuendos and half truths than to publish facts.  All this is merely another sorry chapter in the Social Marxist playbook and how to destroy America's freedoms.

It is ironic that the AJC and other "news media" viciously attack someone for their beliefs and at the same time, hold the First Amendment up as a Roman Gladiator shield.

The AJC, all the propaganda you can tolerate.

bu22
bu22

There's nothing that clearly specifies what he said in the linked article. From this article it sounds like he didn't say anything different than Donald Trump who is running for president.  So if you can lose your job for supporting one of the leading presidential candidates, there is something severely wrong with this country.  There must be a lot of uneducated people who don't understand the Bill of Rights.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@xxxzzz Whether they show his words are not. He has issued an apology therefore he did something wrong whether you agree or not.

Made in the A Jay
Made in the A Jay

@MajorDowning @xxxzzz It's really amazing what someone will do to keep food on their table and support their family. 

Maybe he's not independently wealthy enough to stick to his guns and quit-?


Many people, in a variety of professions, have said they are sorry in order to keep their job. Doesn't mean they did anything wrong except "play the game". 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Hmmmm.  The AJC has printed at least one article and one blog about this principal, posted a link to a website where people are posting slanderous material, and yet, not a single picture of the "offensive" posts by Gary Davidson.

My guess, the posts by Davidson are not "offensive" at all.  This series reeks more of character assassination than anything coming close to "journalism".

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), Davidson looks to be of the age and tenure that he will tender his resignation in order to protect his retirement rather than fight this libelous attack on his good name.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

Forsyth County has a serious problem at Lambert based on the letters posted on the aforementioned site. Alleged or not you folks need to do some real soul searching. Incident after incident were ignored when brought forth by the students. The worse part teachers were some of the perpetrators that's what's really disheartening. 


How are we going to have a better world when those being paid to educate the young are part of the problem. If I lived in Forsyth County I would call the US Justice Department to investigate open discrimination that is taking place in a public school.


There is no defense for any of this. Bigotry is alive in well in Forsyth County as well as the Ga Dept of Ed and Lakeside High School. Trump is taking America back - in time!

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MajorDowning 

And Trump is not a bigot himself, with his characterization of Mexicans as criminals and rapists, and his call to ban all Muslims from entering our country?!!

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@OriginalProf @MajorDowning He is the leading bigot that is why so many folks are doing and saying these outlandish things. Trump is a billionaire running for President not a public servant working for  a living. What fools.

Made in the A Jay
Made in the A Jay

a school of 3000 and it appears that about 10 or so are offended. I am not discounting their opinions, but i am sure that several think that their bosses are ignorant pigs. 


With the gay students, i'd be interested to hear if there were fights, or beatings or such. Were the Islamic students forbidden to wear headscarves? were they not allowed to participate in activities? Were they they punished excessively? Were they told to not talk about their opinions? 


Lambert is very high academically, artistically, and athletically accomplished school. Seems like the actions of a few kids that were on the fringes of "traditional american high school". I can remember myself feeling the teenage angst of "everyone is against me".


Teachers cannot control what comes out of kids mouths. The parents do. Dr Davison probably shouldn't have posted what he did. If all of the students support "being themselves", they shouldn't call for the firings of people. 


As an aside, shame on the AJC for not redacting the names of teachers that haven't been served with suspension by the county. Complete hearsay. The AJC could've gotten the point across without teacher's names. I know a fantastic lawyer, if any of the parties involved are reading.

Aunt T
Aunt T

Maureen - to answer the question in your title, no. They don't. I'm a 20 year veteran 7-12 and college teacher. Because I teach writing and communication courses, I've made it my business to keep up to date on standards, best practices, etc. There are endless resources from White Papers, to MOOCs, to training, and to traditional classes. The problem? Most educators who were trained before 2005 are not even aware that they need training. Even schools or systems with rigid social media and professionalism policies don't have any mechanism in place to enforce a training mandate (meaning a professional is give x months to complete a training or face penalties ranging from a fine, to suspension, to license revocation. Even when they do, what is considered training is laughable - read the policy and sign that you read it. That does nothing to help promote good social media presence. 


Certain course work is mandated for educators as are certain benchmarks for continuing education. It is past time that systems say flat out that as part of professional development, before the next license renewal an educator must complete x hours of CE credit (meaning for credit course work)  in this area AND in what the first amendment does or does cover in terms of free speech.  The classes are out there in many formats. In terms of paying for the cost, what is in place to pay for any CE (required of license holders already). Does the school pay? Is it self pay? 


This approach is not punitive. Educators already must complete certain CE credits per year (often paid for out of pocket) to maintain good standing.  Instead of another session on creative teaching, it is time to require social media training by the end of the calendar year or before the next license renewal - whatever comes first.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Aunt T In many systems, teachers have to do this each year.  AND they don't get their paycheck till they do!

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Several posters below hold that Spencer's First Amendment rights were violated. The First Amendment may guarantee free speech, but it doesn't prohibit listeners from reacting to that speech.  And "fighting words" are expressly exempt from free speech protections--words that would provoke someone into fighting. Seems to me that Spencer used a lot of "fighting words" here, that may not have been offensive to white people, but were to black people and Muslims.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

I read some of the student letters. It seems that when students reported racial verbal abuse or racial aggression by students or teachers, they were routinely told the other kids/teachers were just joking/the victim was too sensitive.


How could the principal not know this was the school atmosphere?


eulb
eulb

If people like Davison and Spencer learn to avoid social media, but continue to hold jobs where a major part of the job involves embracing an supporting a diverse population, it won't solve anything.  They will still be misleading and betraying the people (especially students) who count on them to "say what they mean and mean what they say."

The better path, of course, is: any employee whose heart/mind is at odds with the values required at work should get out.  Find a job where you don't have to publicly embrace values that you inwardly reject.  Do it soon.  Don't live your life as a two-faced hypocrite.  Don't wait until you are forced out.

If such a person doesn't realize on his own that his/her job is a mismatch, I would think that friends and loving family members would notice and lovingly point it out.  Seems like they would encourage him to transition to a job that does not require hypocrisy.  I wonder whether Davison's and Spencer's friends did that. (Too late now.)

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

Some of the best students at Lambert are Indian. Roughly 20% of Indians are Muslim.

Davison is an ignorant bigot.

bu22
bu22

@LordHelpUs Based on comments to an article?  None of that is in the article itself.  If you think comments to an article are authoritative, you have no business calling anyone ignorant.  You have to be skeptical of articles, let alone comments on the internet.

Dumbmick
Dumbmick

In 1971, I began teaching 9th grade Geography, taking the place of

the former teacher (male) that had been summarily fired for allegedly, "taking a student home with him for the week-end, that had allegedly run away from her home the previous week" and who had been "unable" to control unruly behavior in the class-room....The first day of class, I entered his class-room that had been "decorated" from floor to ceiling with playboy center-folds, as an "art project" by some of his "favorites"....Needless to say I calmly went ballistic and promptly tore down the offensive "art" before reading the riot act to his 1st period students....At the end of my tirade, I was given a "standing ovation" by the rest of the students that had gathered at my classroom door to witness my performance...By the 3rd period, word had been spread all over the school, & I had no more issues after that...I say all the above to illustrate that if I had attempted the same "intervention" today in a class-room the PC crowd would probably have had me fired!

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

Bovine excrement. You should have been fired if you DIDN'T remove the offensive material. Not that i believe a word of that screed anyway.

bu22
bu22

@LordHelpUs And yet you believe every comment in that other article?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

One other thing on this subject.  I doubt this principal was concerned about his posting, because he had reason to believe that everyone else thought the same way.  It was not "offensive," because in his view it was obvious that others agreed, due to his experiences.


When I taught very special children, I became aware that many teachers were disgusted by them.  A few even moved away from them in the halls, as though they might catch something.  When I was called into the principal's office because I had taken one of them in the "teacher's bathroom" (because it was the closest bathroom and we were toilet training), I learned that the principal was not sympathetic.  In fact, he stated ,"Those kids don't belong in this school."  No wonder the teachers felt comfortable acting like my students were pariahs.


Over the last decade I taught, I became concerned about the number of support staff who held strong views against immigrant children, or even the American children of immigrants.  I talked to my principal about it, as it was very obvious to me.  One of them was fired; unfortunately the others remain on staff (due, I think, to their connections.)  Even a very good pro-child principal cannot buck that part of the system around here.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

When I came here to interview (back in the dark ages) the superintendent let me know that teachers in the county were held to certain additional expectations, which included not going out in public in shorts, or not wearing hair curlers in public. If hired,  I represented the school system.


I've tried to follow guidelines like those, because I believe to be the most helpful to my students, I need to be circumspect in my behavior.  Not everyone takes their role to be that all-encompassing.  Perhaps in larger communities it is not.



Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Personally, I think the government has crossed the line here.   Davidson exercised his First Amendment right to FREE SPEECH on his personal time and a government bureaucrat punishes him for it.  Sounds like anarchy to me.

B-b-b-b-but Lee, what he posted was "offensive" to some people.

Okay.  Consider this.  The black lives movement is offensive to many people as well.  What if a school administrator or teacher were disciplined for posting a facebook page in favor of BLM?  Would you still call for their termination?  

No?  Why not?  BLM is "offensive" to many people and the administrator/teacher may be presiding over white students that find BLM offensive.

The Constitutional rights of Americans have been chipped away for years.  Once lost, the only way to recover them will be at the tip of a sword.

There are a lot of problems facing America.  The only way to solve them is to be able to talk about them.   Good, bad, or indifferent, I prefer to hear what people have to say.  I may not agree with them, but at least I know where they stand.  I see cultural marxism (political correctness) as a threat to that dialogue.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@AvgGeorgian @Lee_CPA2

"This is a right to work(right to fire) state."


LOL.  Sure it is.  Have you tried to terminate a minority lately?  Good luck.

Ronin7
Ronin7

@Lee_CPA2 Lee, you're correct.  Forsyth County did cross the line on the issue of free speech, but they are happy to trample on the Constitution to be politically correct.  The idea that this person is first held to the school code of conduct, then comes the Constitution is baloney.  Better yet, he has to grovel to try to keep his job for expressing an opinion.  Ideas, opinions, who is to say what or how something should be discussed and who controls the forum?  


Well, the government school system is only too happy to be the P/C police and will throw whoever expresses an opinion that doesn't reflect "offend no one" on the fire.


John Adams or Thomas Jefferson wouldn't approve of selective free speech.  

darryl hill
darryl hill

Just another reason I'll never have a FB account, Twit or any other dumb social avenue to promote any self important non-sense.

Been working pretty good for me.

I can spout my opinions to others and then it becomes hear say.

Nice.

CSpinks
CSpinks

Let us not lose among our rightful condemnations of ill-mannered, disrespectful and other stupid uses to which FB and other social media have been put by some of my fellow educators the cases of courageous educators who have employed these media to call out at considerable professional and economic danger to themselves practices which undermine the educations of many of our state's poor and Black kids. These brave colleagues I salute.

TeachSS
TeachSS

Holy smokes, the student letters! I'm thinking I should apply for a SS job at LHS next year - looks like some should be gone. I'd be happy to serve the diversity and do my job - teach and inspire. Seems like some at LHS have forgotten that is what kids need - not to be bullied. 

td1234
td1234

The PC BS is thick. People in this nation are suppose to have freedom of speech, from government interference, and have freedom of expression. 


There should be no penalty for what a bureaucrat does on their social media page in their private time. 


Good Lord folks do we live in the USA with the Bill of Rights or do we live in communist Russia or China? 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

So, what exactly did Lambert post on his facebook account.  I have yet to see anything.  My guess, when we eventually see the posts, they will be about as lame as Spencer's posts a few days ago.

America has been sliding down the slippery slope of cultural marxism for decades.  "Mainstream media" is little more than propaganda and dialogue has degenerated into shouting matches by the looney left.  Case in point, when former Maryland governor O'Malley said that "All lives matter", the bottom feeders went into slobbering fits until he apologized, and they still wanted to extract their pound of flesh.

Talk about black crime, you are a racist.

Talk about the homosexual lifestyle, you are a homophobe.

Talk about illegal immigration, you are xenophobic.

Basically, disagree with anything the politically correct pathogens care about and they go into full bore hissy fit mode.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lee_CPA2


I am glad that Trump stood up to mainstream media and ditched their little debate thingy.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

These types of comments are blatantly ignorant and were deserving of the punishment.

On the other hand, my wife is a teacher. A co-worker of hers got reprimanded for "Liking" a picture that included a group of people consuming alcohol.

A parent reported it to the administration.....


Again, the teacher was not drinking in the picture (not that I understand why that would be a big deal either), but she was reported for giving the thumbs up to it.


People need to get a grip.

bu22
bu22

@jarvis1975 What comments?  Did you look at his facebook or are you relying on comments to the article?

Cobbian
Cobbian

It really was stupid.  Principals and high level government employees don' t get to have a "public face" and a "private face."  They are always "in the public eye."  And actually teachers and principals have more of a responsibility because they are providing leadership and training to kids.  


See the link in the Update above.  The letters shared by students/former students  are quite good.  I hope Mr. Davison reads them.


Davison has taken the first right step in apologizing.  He says he has learned something.  We are not a very forgiving people - does he get another chance? 

sssinff
sssinff

@Cobbian Are we reading the same letters from current and former students? Those are actually quite damning and point to a culture of bigotry at the school.

Cobbian
Cobbian

@sssinff @Cobbian Indeed the letters are "quite damning and point to a culture of bigotry at the school."  Several of them point out acts by teachers that are awful.  Some point to a lack of feedback to students who have complained of bigotry.  The letters are another learning opportunity for the school board, the principal, and the teachers - and the parents.  


I am not sure there is a "culture of bigotry" at that school as much as there are a few teachers who are pretty bad and a principal who seems to have said the right things or some of the right things at school and the wrong things on face book.  There are also some students who have have not been called to task for words and actions that have hurt some of the kids who don't form part of the accepted majority.  


It all needs to be addressed before the bigoted attitudes of a few are allowed to spread around as if what they demonstrate is acceptable.

sssinff
sssinff

@Cobbian


"It all needs to be addressed before the bigoted attitudes of a few are allowed to spread around as if what they demonstrate is acceptable."


It appears that it's too late for that. When students escalate issues to administration, and administration does nothing, that is tacit approval, hence, it's a "culture." It's hard to see how this guy keeps his job given the many, many complaints by current and former students. Some of the teachers named might also be in for a rough time.

gapeach101
gapeach101

To answer the question " Are these folks not aware of social media risks?", apparently not.

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

I'm grateful that they don't understand the risks. I'd rather know their true feelings/outlooks.

MuleTooth
MuleTooth

As a retired high school administrator I am appalled that comments allegedly made by Dr. Davidson on his Facebook page and alleged comments made by Mr. Chris Wilson in his classroom would come from two educated men who are charged with teaching and shaping our next generation. I say 'alleged' because I hope with all my heart that what I read is not true. Unfortunately, Dr. Davidson's post was captured digitally and is a matter of public record now. Unfortunate as well, the unsettling and bigoted comments made by Mr. Wilson seem to be coming from independent sources and there seems to be considerable parallels among those reporting.


I have made mistakes as an educator in spoken and written communication; however, they were 'mistakes' in the truest sense of the word. I always felt I was an educator regardless of my location, and as such, was responsible for words and actions. You can't very well set a good example at school and set a bad example in public. Worse yet is setting a bad example in school and out!


I do and did a lot of things that are socially acceptable outside of school that should not be taken into the educational environment and I did not take them. Furthermore, based on the values of the community, I pursued the socially acceptable activities that were unacceptable in school in private. I didn't curse at school and I did not curse at my child's bad games. If I hit my thumb with a hammer in the privacy of my own home, I would conjugate every curse word known to a drunken sailor.


If true, I'm afraid what I'm beginning to understand about Dr. Davidson and Mr. Wilson and perhaps others at the school is that the comments aren't just slips of the tongue, but instead are true and deliberate attempts to indoctrinate, proselytize or otherwise persuade students to adopt their personal views about gender identity, sexual preference, religion, race and color -- to name a few.


What I have seen I can say with very high confidence is not in the Georgia curriculum or in the curriculum of any public school in this country. Teachers and administrators who cross the line as mentioned most likely will not teach anything in the curriculum that is in conflict with their prejudicial beliefs. I do not think a teacher who allegedly insults students of different cultures is going to do a very good job when the related culture comes up for study in the text. 


Simply put, these educators and administrators need a personal filter on their words, spoken and written, and their actions. They apparently have none. 


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

There was a Southern comedian back in the 1960s named Brother Dave Gardener.  He ruffled a lot of feathers as he was not the incorrigible racist so many people were.  Someone asked him, "Brother Dave, do you have to watch what you say?"  He said, "No.  I just watch what I think."