The principal of a high school in the heavily Jewish city of Boca Raton, Fla., who was fired last year after he declined to recognize that the Holocaust occurred, has been reinstated.
The Palm Beach County School Board voted 4-3 on Wednesday to rehire Spanish River High School principal William Latson, despite hearing 96 minutes of voice recordings, mostly objections from school board members, Holocaust survivors, family members and others ahead of the vote.
A state administrative judge ruled in August that Latson should be rehired, though reassigned. Donald Fennoy, superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County, has recommended that Latson be reinstated and given $152,000 in back pay.
At the time, Fennoy requested that Latson be placed in the district’s assessment department as a “principal on assignment,” according to a list of proposed district hires.
The school board voted 5-2 back in October 2019 with “just cause” to terminate Latson’s employment, effective the following Nov. 21, according to minutes of the meeting.
The board said that Latson violated school-board policies and ethics codes, according to the meeting.
In April 2018, Latson emailed a student’s mother, who sought to ensure that Holocaust education was “a priority,” 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,” he continued.
Latson added that educators have “the role to be politically neutral, but support all groups in the school.”
“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.
The school board said Latson “made a grave error in judgment.”
Latson then apologized for his words, saying, “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.”