SOUTH FORSYTH — The principal of Lambert High School has been cleared to return to his position Monday after being placed on temporary leave last week following an online backlash over Facebook posts the educator had shared.
Gary Davison will have been away from campus for six school days after the decision was made on the afternoon of Jan. 28.
The leave was the result of a meeting that day between Davison, who has led the school at Old Atlanta Highway and Nichols Road in south Forsyth since it opened in 2009, and Forsyth County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden.
Most of the posts, which were largely published last summer and fall, focused on anti-Muslim rhetoric, calling Islam a violent religion. One shared a picture with text that said, “One nation under God, not Allah,” while another supported Gov. Nathan Deal’s office in calling for Georgia to stop accepting Syrian refugees.
Other posts were unfavorable toward the LGBT community, Caitlyn Jenner and Planned Parenthood.
Assistant Principal Pam Bibik was named acting principal while Davison was leave.
In a statement Friday, Bearden said the decision to allow Davison to return to Lambert was made after “much thought, careful consideration and meeting” with him.
“Dr. Davison has apologized for his mistakes and is fully committed to regaining the community's trust,” Bearden said. “I firmly believe he has learned from this experience and is committed to ensuring a positive culture and climate for all students that attend Lambert.”
Davison mirrored those thoughts in a statement released by the school system Friday afternoon.
“Please know that every student at Lambert is very important to me,” Davison said. “I appreciate all that Mrs. Bibik, the administrative team, teachers and staff have done for the school during my leave of absence. I pledge to each of you to further support the students of Lambert.”
In the aftermath of the announcement, students rallied both behind and against Davison.
A Change.org petition was created in support of his return the night his suspension was announced. As of Friday, it had garnered 3,150 signatures.
Lambert has 2,953 students, according to the school system’s most recent attendance report, making it the largest high school in the district.
However, students, both former and current, also began sharing testimonies with each other on their public Facebook pages that recounted negative experiences at Lambert due, mainly, to their religion or sexual orientation.
A Facebook page called Change Forsyth Now was created this week as a “coalition for minority voices of Forsyth.”
The group, which had 287 likes as of Friday, has a goal to “improve conditions for current and future Lambert students” and allow an open discussion for testimonies and solutions.
The page also has a folder with many of Davison’s original posts that came into question.