The Phoenix Flyer

Jewish lawmakers condemn school board’s rehiring of an administrator over Holocaust outcry

By: - October 16, 2020 1:55 pm

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Members of the the Florida Jewish Caucus in the Legislature have condemned the rehiring of a former Palm Beach County principal who refused to say that the Holocaust is a factual, historical event. He has been assigned to another position in the district.

The incident in 2019 led to an outcry that became a national story.

Despite the scandal, the Palm Beach County School Board last week reinstated administrator William Latson, prompting condemnation, according to the The Palm Beach Post.

State Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Democrat who represents part of Palm Beach County also is the Florida Jewish Legislative Caucus Co-Chair. She said she is “deeply disappointed” by Latson’s rehiring.

“It is unacceptable and unconscionable that Principal Latson should continue to work for the School District of Palm Beach County, given his incendiary comments denying the Holocaust,” Slosberg said. “The Holocaust is a historical event; it really happened. It is not a matter of personal opinion, as Principal Latson alleged.”

“Today we should not tolerate this behavior from our educators as it encourages and embraces historical hatred, racism and genocide. I am truly offended that the school board sought to give Mr. Latson another chance, when so many died without the opportunity for the same,” said Florida Jewish Legislative Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Michael Gottlieb, a Democrat who represents part of Broward County.

The issue started when a parent emailed Latson to learn how the school was implementing Holocaust education, according to school emails that were linked to a Palm Beach Post story.

She was surprised with his response: “The curriculum is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not the same beliefs.”

The parent sent a follow-up email asking for clarification.

Latson replied saying that according to the emails, “the clarification is that not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” and that he could not take a position on the matter because he needed to be politically neutral as a public servant.

“I can’t say that the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Latson’s follow-up email reads.

The school board terminated Latson, but in August, a judge ruled that he should not have been fired, and should be reinstated.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.