William Latson, who as head of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton told a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” was reassigned effective immediately, the Palm Beach County School District announced Monday.
“In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board,” the district said in a statement. It added that its Holocaust curriculum is “based on historical fact.”
Latson has been reassigned to an unspecified job as the district searches for his replacement at the high school.
Latson, in an April 2018 email exchange with an unidentified parent who asked how his school teaches about the World War II atrocity that killed 6 million Jews, said he had to be respectful of those who don’t accept the Holocaust as historical fact.
“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,” Latson told the mother, according to copies of emails obtained by the Palm Beach Post through a public records request. “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.”
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.
He added that instruction and an assembly about the genocide were not mandatory for students, as some parents “don’t want their children to participate.”
Latson was privately counseled by district administrators shortly after the emails, but he was not disciplined. He later visited Washington’s U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to educate himself, the Palm Beach Post reported.
″(The) fact that someone charged with educating children would be unable to speak unequivocally on the realities & horrors of the holocaust is incredibly concerning,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted. “Our children and communities deserve better. There’s no excuse for anti-Semitism in any form.”
Latson, who did not respond to a request for comment, issued an apology to the Palm Beach Post last week, saying his emails did not reflect who he is.
“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,” he said.
The school district in its statement called Latson’s leadership “a major distraction for the school community.”