A high school principal in Florida has been removed from his post after telling a student’s parent that he refused to say the Holocaust was a “factual, historical event”, because he was a public school official.
William Latson, who was then the principal at Spanish River High School, told the parent that he must remain “politically neutral” on the issue — meaning he felt the need to give credence to advocates who fight for educating America’s youth about the slaughter of six million Jews during the Second World War, and those who deny the genocide’s existence.
The Palm Beach County School District has since removed Mr Latson from his post, and reassigned him to an unspecified position.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the email exchange between the former principal and the parent has sparked a major scandal in Boca Raton, a community known as the home for many Holocaust survivors, their children, and further descendants.
“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.’ In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board,” the school district said in a statement on Monday.
In the emails, Mr Latson wrote that he was working to expose students to the lessons of the Holocaust, which have been mandated in the state since 1994, but that not all parents are happy with that curriculum.
“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,” he wrote.
He continued: “I work to expose students to certain things but not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be and I can’t force that issue.”
The comments were widely condemned by parents and alumni of the school, and led to petitions for his removal.