(October 31, 2019 / JNS) The principal of a high school in the heavily Jewish-populated Florida city of Boca Raton has been fired by the school board in Palm Beach County after he declined to recognize that the Holocaust occurred.
The board voted on Wednesday, 5-2, with “just cause” to terminate Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson’s employment, effective Nov. 21, according to minutes of the meeting.
The board said that Latson violated school-board policies and ethics codes, according to the meeting minutes.
Latson told the mother of a student in April 2018 who sought to ensure that Holocaust education was “a priority” that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”
“And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school, and not all of our parents have the same beliefs,” he continued.
Latson added that educators have “the role to be politically neutral, but support all groups in the school.”
“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school-district employee,” he wrote.
The Palm Beach County School District said in a statement in July, “Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote in an email stating, ‘I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school-district employee,’ ’’ reported The Sun Sentinel. “In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board.”
Latson apologized to The Palm Beach Post, which first reported the exchange: “I regret that the verbiage that I used when responding to an email message from a parent, one year ago, did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
“It is critical that, as a society, we hold dear the memory of the victims and hold fast to our commitment to counter anti-Semitism,” he added.
Latson noted that the school teaches the Holocaust in ninth- and 10th-grade English courses, along with U.S. history and world history classes, as an elective class and “in an annual assembly featuring a keynote speaker,” according to the Post.
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