Florida principal who told parent he had to be neutral on Holocaust should not have been fired, judge rules


(JTA) — William Latson, a high school principal in South Florida, was fired after telling a parent he could not say that the Holocaust was a “factual, historical event” because “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

A state administrative judge ruled last week that his dismissal was in error.

In October, the Palm Beach County School Board fired Latson from his post at Spanish River Community High following a four-month suspension.

The judge, Robert Cohen of the Division of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee, ruled Thursday that Latson should have been reprimanded or reassigned to another position within the school system rather than fired. He recommended that Latson be rehired but reassigned to another position and receive back wages for his suspension without pay.

Latson “made some unfortunate choices in expressing his thoughts,” the judge said, and failed to communicate with supervisors while on vacations — the main reason given by the school board for his firing — but none of his actions rose to the level of “gross insubordination” required to be fired, the Palm Beach Post reported.

He was with the school district for 26 years and had been principal at Spanish River since 2011.

In an April 2018 email, Latson told the mother of a student “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” in response to an inquiry about the Holocaust not being taught at the school. The school’s educational offerings on the Holocaust exceed the state’s requirements, he told the parent.

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in the position to do so as a school district employee,” he wrote. “You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”

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