Two state lawmakers want Palm Beach County school principal ousted for questioning the reality of the Holocaust

State Sen. Lauren Book, a South Florida Democrat. Florida Channel screenshot

A South Florida high school principal has been reassigned after telling the mother of a student last year that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

But two state lawmakers say the comment is now in violation of state law, and the principal should be fired.

Democratic state Senator Lauren Book from Broward County and Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine issued a joint statement this afternoon, saying that a new law recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis requires public schools to treat anti-Semitism as discrimination and anti-Semitic speech as racist speech.

The lawmakers also claim that there’s been a coverup in the school district, since the incident happened over a year ago.

The Palm Beach Post reported last week that a mother of a student sent an email in April 2018 to William Latson, the principal at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, inquiring how the Holocaust was taught.

In his response, the principal said that he couldn’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 also wrote in another email 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 so they will react differently.”

Latson has since apologized, and today he was reassigned to a different position in the Palm Beach County School District.

“Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote in an email stating, ‘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,’” the School District of Palm Beach County wrote in a statement today. “In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board.”

But in the lawmakers’ statement, Senator Book and Rep. Fine say that’s not nearly a severe enough punishment.

“Imagine if Principal Latson had said in an email to an African-American parent that he could not and would not state that slavery is a factual, historical event. He would have been gone –one hundred percent justified – by the end of the day,” the two legislators said in a written statement. “Our law now requires that anti-Semitism be treated in kind.”

“As a result, we demand the immediate termination of Principal Latson. On behalf of the people of Palm Beach County and all good and honorable people of Florida, we demand a full and complete investigation in how such anti-Semitic conduct could have been tolerated and covered up by the school district’s bureaucracy for more than a year.”

The two lawmakers say they also sent their statement to Palm Beach County School Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy.

 

 

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

1 COMMENT

  1. Latson is required by LAW to teach certain things as “history.” As a person (like a soldier) required by his employer to perform a certain act, he may not question the correctness of his orders.
    Schools that our children are required BY LAW to attend should not “teach” history, nor even science these days. These are political.
    If we must have taxpayer-funded schools (we shouldn’t), they should teach only mathematics and language(s).

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