Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Florida high school principal who was fired and then rehired after refusing to say whether Holocaust was 'a factual, historical event' is once AGAIN fired after community backlash

 A Florida high school principal was fired for the second time on Monday over a comment he made to a student's parent last year regarding the Holocaust.

The Palm Beach County School Board's vote on Monday morning reversed an earlier decision to reinstate Spanish River High School Principal William Latson after his dismissal.

Latson was fired in October 2019 after sparking outrage when he told a parent he 'can't say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event' because he wasn't in a position to do so 'as a school district employee.'

He appealed his firing and an administrative law judge ruled in August that the school board had gone too far in firing him. That prompted the school board's 4-3 vote to reinstate him October 7.

Former Spanish River Community High School Principal William Latson was again terminated after a unanimous vote by the Palm Beach County School Board on Monday

Former Spanish River Community High School Principal William Latson was again terminated after a unanimous vote by the Palm Beach County School Board on Monday

On October 7 the school board reluctantly voted 4-3 to reinstate Latson - but not to his old post at the Boca Raton high school - following an administrative law judge's August decision that it had gone too far in firing him

On October 7 the school board reluctantly voted 4-3 to reinstate Latson - but not to his old post at the Boca Raton high school - following an administrative law judge's August decision that it had gone too far in firing him

He was also given $152,000 in back pay. Officials told the Palm Beach Post that Latson was assigned to the district's transportation department, where he earns the same pay he received as a principal.

On Monday, the board reversed course and voted 7-0 to fire Latson following outrage in the Jewish community, the Post reported. 

It wasn't clear Monday whether he would have to return his back pay. 

After the October 7 meeting when the school board reinstated Latson, its voicemail box was inundated with 1,300 messages demanding his firing, reported the Post.  

A formal rejection of the recommendation to rehire Latson is expected to come via a 'final order' in a separate school board vote November 10, the newspaper reported.

'I am so at peace that I am going to rescind my vote from the October 7 meeting,' board member Barbara McQuinn said as the meeting began.  

The Palm Beach County School Board's formal rejection of the recommendation to rehire Latson is expected to come via a 'final order' in a separate vote November 10

The Palm Beach County School Board's formal rejection of the recommendation to rehire Latson is expected to come via a 'final order' in a separate vote November 10

Former Florida principal officially fired for Holocaust comments
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'What Dr. Latson did was open the door for the students whose parents are Holocaust deniers for generations to come to deny the atrocity of the Holocaust,' said McQuinn.

The Germans under Nazi rule killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazis also exterminated another 5 million people during World War II, including Slavs; Roma, also known as Gypsies; gays and people with disabilities.

The board initially agreed to fire last year Latson on ground of ethical misconduct and failure to carry out his job responsibilities. 

The official justification for his termination was failure to return messages from school district officials in the days after his comments made international news.

Latson, pictured, reportedly told a parent that 'not everyone believes the Holocaust happened' after they had sent an email to Latson asking how the Holocaust is taught in school
Latson pictured above

Latson, pictured, reportedly told a parent that 'not everyone believes the Holocaust happened' after they had sent an email to Latson asking how the Holocaust is taught in school

Latson was fired in October last year when emails he sent to a student's mother surfaced, in which he said that the mass slaughter of six million Jews is a 'belief' (shown above)

Latson was fired in October last year when emails he sent to a student's mother surfaced, in which he said that the mass slaughter of six million Jews is a 'belief' (shown above)

Latson was reassigned from the Boca Raton school to a district office job because of the outcry over his email to a mother who inquired whether the school's students study the Holocaust.

Latson, who had been at Spanish River for eight years, replied to the mother that as an educator his job was to be 'politically neutral.'

The mother, thinking Latson had expressed himself poorly, wrote back, saying, 'The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or belief.'

Latson replied, 'Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.' He added, 'You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.'


The comments prompted international controversy when they were leaked to the press in July 2019, coming at a time of increased concern about anti-Semitism in the US and Europe.  

Shortly after, Latson visited the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on a trip paid for by a nonprofit that promotes Holocaust awareness.

The Post printed an apology for his remarks that was attributed to him. 

Last summer, Latson spent four days in Washington, DC, touring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a trip paid for by a nonprofit that promotes Holocaust awareness. He posted this tweet on February 5, 2019

Last summer, Latson spent four days in Washington, DC, touring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a trip paid for by a nonprofit that promotes Holocaust awareness. He posted this tweet on February 5, 2019

In a October 27 YouTube video, Latson finally made an unequivocal apology, saying that he was 'wrong' to tell a parent in 2018 that he could not state that the Holocaust was a historical fact

In a October 27 YouTube video, Latson finally made an unequivocal apology, saying that he was 'wrong' to tell a parent in 2018 that he could not state that the Holocaust was a historical fact

'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,' read the statement.

Afterward he admitted that the school district wrote the statement on his behalf.

And in a farewell message to his staff, Latson blamed the controversy on a 'false statement' that the parent provided, the Post reported. 

On October 27, Latson posted to YouTube a recorded apology. He said he tried to submit it to the school board in advance of an October 22 meeting, but the statement was not aired then.   

'When I wrote to a parent in 2018 that as an employee of Palm Beach County schools I could not state that the Holocaust was a historical fact, I was wrong,' he said. 'I apologize to the Palm Beach County community, the school board, the school administration, the parents, students, teachers of Palm Beach County, the Jewish community, and everyone offended or hurt by my mistake. I am not a Holocaust denier. I have never been a Holocaust denier.'

Latson continued, 'Some may say this apology comes too late, but I believe it's never too late to do the right thing.'

Spanish River High School is in Boca Raton, which has a large Jewish population. The Holocaust is taught in ninth and 10th grades at the high school. 

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