A Florida high school principal, now reassigned to a school district office, may lose his job completely for telling a parent in a shocking email that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.” The email, sent in 2018, was made public this week after the Palm Beach Post reported on its public records request for the email.
In a filmed statement on Wednesday, Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy said he recommended the school board not renew the contract of William Latson, who was principal of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton.
The school district reassigned Latson on Monday after his 2018 email was uncovered, but he still has 11 months left on his contract, according to The Associated Press.
Fennoy said on Wednesday that Latson’s remarks caused “real distress” at his school and said that people in Boca Raton and beyond are deeply concerned by them.
“Our children need to be taught the facts of our history, period,” Fennoy said.
He also reaffirmed that “all students are taught about the Holocaust as an established fact.”
“Our schools can never be fact-neutral environments,” Fennoy added. “It’s our job as educators that our students learn the facts and know our history. This is non-negotiable for a strong society.”
In 2018, a parent sent an email to Latson asking if the school made lessons about the Holocaust “a priority” for its students, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Latson replied that the school offered a one-day lesson to 10th-graders but noted that the lesson wasn’t mandatory since some parents wouldn’t want their children to participate, according to the Post.
When the parent countered Latson’s email, saying the Holocaust is a “factual, historical event” and “not a right or belief,” Latson disagreed, the emails show.
“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 so they will react differently,” the principal wrote back, according to the Post. “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.”
Latson offered an apology in a statement to the Post this week, saying he regretted “the verbiage” used in the emails. He also claimed that his emails “did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
However, in a message to school staffers on Monday, Latson falsely accused the parent he exchanged emails with of misrepresenting his emails, according to The Associated Press ― even though the Post had obtained those emails in a records request.
“I have been reassigned to the district office due to a statement that was not accurately relayed to the newspaper by one of our parents,” Latson reportedly wrote to school staffers. “It is unfortunate that someone can make a false statement and do so anonymously and it holds credibility but that is the world we live in.”
Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 6 million Jewish people were murdered under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in Europe. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremist groups in the U.S., notes that some influential people who deny the Holocaust “seek to rehabilitate the Nazi regime” and bring the ideology of national socialism and anti-Semitism “to new, broader audiences.”