A petition to remove the Boca Raton principal who said that not everyone believes the Holocaust happened has garnered over 9,400 signatures.
By United With Israel Staff
Principal William Latson of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida, was removed from his post Monday following revelations that, over a year ago, he refused to state that the Holocaust was a historical fact.
In correspondences between Latson and a concerned mother, whose child attends the school, the principal wrote that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” and that he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event.”
Palm Beach County School District administrators said that Latson, who was principal of the school since 2011, was privately admonished for his statements and visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to increase his “personal knowledge” of the genocide. But he was not formally disciplined or reprimanded, until now.
The school district reported that Latson was reassigned following the wide-reaching publicity of the story. This included an online petition that garnered over 9,400 signatures at the time of this writing.
“Despite these efforts, his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community. It is, therefore, in the best interest of students and the larger school community to reassign Mr. Latson to a District position,” the district administraation said. “In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board.”
His new position has not yet been announced.
The story was first publicized last week in The Palm Beach Post. Since then, it has received international attention, forcing the school board to take disciplinary action.
Republican U.S. Senator Rick Scott wrote on Twitter Sunday, “[The] fact that someone charged with educating children would be unable to speak unequivocally on the realities & horrors of the holocaust is incredibly concerning. Our children and communities deserve better. There’s no excuse for anti-Semitism in any form.”
Palm Bay State Representative Randy Fine, who sponsored legislation this year officially banning anti-Semitism in Florida public schools, said on Friday that “the law does not allow a Holocaust-denier to serve as a public school principal.” according to The Post.
“We demand a full and complete investigation into how such anti-Semitic conduct could have been tolerated and covered up by the school district’s bureaucracy for more than a year,” Fine added.
The Post reported that Latson told the paper that he regretted his comments, saying that they “did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
‘The Trust Has Been Broken’
Palm Beach County School Board member Karen Brill, who is the board’s only Jewish member of the heavily Jewish district, said Monday about Latson, “The trust has been broken. An apology will never erase the damage caused by his comments.”
Florida state law requires that the Holocaust be taught, and Spanish River High is reported to have one of the most rigorous Holocaust education programs in the county.
School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri, seeking to “reaffirm the Board’s commitment to Holocaust Education,” released a statement, saying, “Every generation must recognize, and learn from, the atrocities of the Holocaust’s incomprehensible suffering and the enduring stain that it left on humankind. It is only through high quality education, and thought provoking conversations, that history won’t repeat itself.”
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