Refusing to admit the reality of the Holocaust has cost a South Florida principal his job.
The Palm Beach County School District removed William Latson from his post as principal of Spanish River High School after emails between Latson and a parent became public. In those messages, Latson wrote 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.”
By implying that its an issue to be debated instead facts to be taught Latson opened the door for an ugly, pernicious strand of ahistorical thinking commonly pushed by anti-Semites.
The parent was writing Latson to express concern that, while there were optional opportunities, not all Spanish River students were learning about the Holocaust, an area of instruction required in Florida public schools since 1994.
Latson replied that “the curriculum is to be introduced by not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.” It’s a stunning statement for the principal of a public school — where attendance is mandated by law — to make. He’s equivocating exposing young people to history with forcing them to adopt an ideology.
In a terse reply, the parent asked for Latson to clarify. Latson blamed parents he said don’t want their kids learning about the Holocaust and, seemingly in an effort to be neutral, fatefully refused to admit its veracity.
In heavily Jewish South Florida, home to the second-largest community of Holocaust survivors in the country, the outrage came swiftly and furiously.
Multiple petitions calling for Latson’s firing circulated, including one on Change.org that garnered nearly 10,000 signatures.
In a statement announcing Latson’s reassignment to an unspecified role, the district called his words “a grave error in verbiage” that was offensive and not supported by the district. Latson’s presence at the school a “major distraction” that efforts to personally educate him — including with a multi-day visit to the United States Holocaust Museum — could not ameliorate.
Latson’s replacement has not been named.