A petition has been formed asking for the resignation of a Florida principal who wrote that he could not say the Holocaust was a “factual, historical event.”
A mother from Boca Raton, Florida, has been fighting this past year with her son’s school district. She is demanding proper Holocaust education following the principal’s writing that he could not say that the Holocaust was a historical fact.
In April 2018, a mother, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her child’s identity, wrote to the principal of Spanish River High School, asking if Holocaust education was an educational “priority.”
School Principal Denies Holocaust
The principal, William Latson, replied that the school ran a variety of activities, however, lessons were “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”
The stunned mother, hoping that the principal had expressed himself poorly, asked for clarification, saying, “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or a belief.”
According to email records obtained by The Palm Beach Post through a public records request, Latson responded, “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.”
He also claimed that as a school district employee, he must remain “politically neutral” on the topic. “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,” he wrote.
Following this principal’s shocking responses, the mother launched a year-long campaign, noting that Latson had failed to separate truth from myth about the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews along with millions of others.
Mothers gathered with Latson and the school board to discuss the disturbing letters as well as hoping to improve Holocaust education at the school.
Deputy School Superintendent Keith Oswald agreed that “Latson’s email messages were inappropriate but were not reflective of who he was as an educator,” according to the Post.
“It was a hastily, poorly written email that he apologized for,” Oswald said. “That’s some of the challenge that we face when we email back and forth instead of picking up the phone.”
As reported by the Post, the mother does not consider Latson anti-Semitic, nor does she believe that he thinks that the Holocaust never happened. However, she does suspect that his statements stem from fear of backlash from parents who do deny the reality of the Holocaust.
In a statement to the Post, Latson apologized.
“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,” he wrote. “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 mother’s activism caused the school district’s upper ranks to “grapple with whether and how to admonish a longtime principal of a high-performing school for his troubling statements,” reported the Post. However, as reported, Latson has not been formally disciplined for his statements.
According to the Post, the agreed-upon Holocaust educational changes have not been implemented.
Sign the Petition
“The Holocaust is a historical fact,” said Palm Beach County School Board member Karen Brill, the only Jewish member of the board, according to the records. “I am appalled that anyone in our district believes that its teaching may be opted out of.”
Brill added that she no longer has faith in Latson’s leadership, according to the minutes from the meeting obtained by the Post.
A petition has been set up asking Latson to resign.