Principal Who Tried to Stay ‘Politically Neutral’ About Holocaust Is RemovedBreaking News
tags: Holocaust, education, schools
A high school principal in Florida has been removed from his position over his refusal to state that the Holocaust was a factual historical event, saying that he had to stay “politically neutral” about the World War II-era genocide of six million Jews.
“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” the principal, William Latson of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Fla., wrote in an email exchange with an unidentified parent in April 2018. He said that the school offered an assembly and courses on the Holocaust, but that they were optional and could not be “forced upon” all students.
The emails were recently obtained and published by The Palm Beach Post.
“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,” Mr. Latson wrote, making a distinction between his personal beliefs about the Holocaust and his role as the leader of a public school. “I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly. I do the same with information about slavery.”
The comments set off an intense backlash in South Florida, which has a significant Jewish population and has among the highest concentrations of Holocaust survivors in the world. Thousands signed an online petition calling for Mr. Latson’s resignation, and on Monday, the Palm Beach County school district announced that he would be stripped of his position as principal and reassigned to another job in the district.
The debate comes as memory of the Holocaust is fading and anti-Semitism is on the rise. Florida is among the states working to combat that; under state law, all school districts must offer Holocaust education. In 2018, the gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., about a 20-minute drive from Spanish River Community High School, opened fire during one of these lessons, a class called History of the Holocaust.