Petition Against Rehiring of Holocaust-Denying High School Principal in Florida Passes 20,000 Signatures
More than 20,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the Palm Beach County School Board in Florida desist from plans to rehire William Latson — a former high school principal who was terminated after he told a parent who enquired about Holocaust education that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”
“This is a slap in the face to all Holocaust victims,” declared the online petition, which was launched by parents opposed to Latson’s continued presence as an official in the Florida education system.
“We cannot allow antisemitism and discrimination to take hold in the school system,” the petition stated.
The controversy involving Latson dates back to April 2018, when he told the mother of a student who sought to ensure that Holocaust education was “a priority” that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” in an email.
“And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school, and not all of our parents have the same beliefs,” he scolded.
Latson added that educators had “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.
In an interview last Friday with the Palm Beach Post, Latson’s attorney, Thomas Elfers, revealed that his client would have been compelled to confront Holocaust-denying parents at Spanish River had he acknowledged the fact of the Nazi genocide.
“Two or three parents were Holocaust deniers; Dr. Latson was pressured by one mother to confront them, and he declined,” Elfers said. “Confronting parents about their beliefs was outside the scope of his duties.”
Elfers then suggested that Latson’s stance on the Holocaust was in keeping with the need for educators to remain “neutral.”
“After a century of contention between creationists and evolutionists, most educators have learned to teach the curriculum and to stay neutral,” Elfers said.
However, Elfers’ version of events was disputed by the parent who first complained about Latson.
“In her emails to Latson, the stunned parent only wanted him to clarify his unprompted claim about the Holocaust being a ‘belief,’ email records show,” the Palm Beach Post reported. “She made no request in the messages that he address other parents.”
One member of the School Board who voted in favor of Latson said that he should be required to publicly apologize.
“I think that is the least he can do,” Debra Robinson said.
Robinson’s fellow School Board member, Karen Brill — who voted against Latson — told the Palm Beach Post that the chances of an apology were negligible in her opinion.
“Good luck with that, though,” Brill said, “because I think that there is a level of arrogance that will prohibit that ever happening.”