State Watch

Florida school board fires principal who wouldn’t call Holocaust ‘factual’ a second time

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A Florida school board this week voted unanimously to fire a high school principal for the second time over his refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust as a “factual, historical event” in a 2018 email to a student’s parent that garnered national attention. 

The seven-member Palm Beach County school board on Tuesday voted to fire William Latson, who had initially been removed last year from his role as principal at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Fla., The New York Times reported. 

According to The Palm Beach Post, Latson had appealed his firing last year, and an administrative law judge in August of this year sided with him, arguing that Latson’s action did not warrant termination.

In an April 2018 email obtained by the Post, Latson told a parent that he “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.”

Latson added in the email that he had to stay “politically neutral” and separate his perceptions of the Holocaust from his public school role. 

“I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly,” he wrote. “I do the same with information about slavery.”

However, school board members on Tuesday adopted a final order firing Latson, writing “Dr. Latson did commit misconduct in office, incompetency, and gross insubordination, providing just cause for his suspension and termination.” 

The board added that Latson’s “actions caused a great number of people to doubt the commitment of the School District to honor its statutory mandate to teach its students that the Holocaust did occur and caused further disruption within the SRHS community.”

The group said the order would take effect upon being filed with the school board clerk. 

However, board members have acknowledged that Latson may appeal the decision in state court. 

Latson’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment this week from the Post or the Times. 

Before Tuesday’s vote, Latson released a three-minute video on YouTube in which he apologized to the school district and local community, adding that he “was wrong” for refusing to say that the Holocaust was a historical fact. 

“I am not a Holocaust denier,” he says in the video. “I have never been a Holocaust denier. I am sorry that my comments caused people to think that.”

Tags Florida Holocaust Holocaust denial Jewish Palm Beach County school board South Florida The New York Times YouTube

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