A high school principal in Florida has been reassigned within his district days after a report revealed he told a concerned parent on email: “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event.”
The Palm Beach Post reported Friday that Spanish River High School principal William Latson made controversial comments last year in email responses to an unnamed mother of a student at the school. According to the paper, the mother had reached out to Latson because she wanted to be assured that the Holocaust was taught to all students in accordance with Florida law.
In two emails published by the Post, Latson first informed the mother that “the curriculum is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”
After the mother asked Latson to clarify, Latson responded, “The clarification is 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.”
Latson explained that he has to be “politically neutral” on the issue, adding, “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.”
So began a yearlong battle over the details of Holocaust curriculum at the school, and over the views of Latson, who first became principal at Spanish River in 2011.
After the news broke Friday, the story hit international channels and calls began to pour in for Latson to resign.
In an email to the Post, the principal said, “I regret that the verbiage I used when responding to an email message from a parent, one year ago, did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to education all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
Latson added, “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.”
The School District of Palm Beach County announced Monday that Latson was being reassigned to another position in the district, calling his comments “offensive” and saying “his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community.”
The district said an immediate search would begin for a new principal to serve Spanish River High School.