A high school principal in Florida has been reassigned after telling a parent he couldn’t say with any degree of certainty whether the Holocaust actually happened.
In an email to a concerned parent, William Latson, who was at the time serving as the principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, said he could not describe the Holocaust as a “factual, historical event,” according to CBS News.
A parent emailed Latson in April 2018, asking how the Holocaust was being taught in the school. In response, the principal explained teachers have “a variety of ways” of educating students about the Holocaust.
“The curriculum,” he wrote, “is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals, as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”
Concerned by his response, the parent wrote back to Latson, telling him the Holocaust was “a factual, historical event” and not “a right or a belief” up for debate. The parent furthermore asked the principal to clarify his earlier comments.
Latson, though, stood his ground. He told the inquiring parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”
“You have your thoughts,” he added, “but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”
His email continued:
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. I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly.
Latson went on to say he operates “the same with information about slavery.”
So what happened?
The school district did not initially punish Latson. Instead, he received counseling and was encouraged to expand the school’s Holocaust curriculum. He also visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to increase his “personal knowledge” of the horrific genocide, WPEC-TV reported.
On Monday, though, the district announced it would be immediately reassigning Latson because “his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community.”
“It is out of an abundance of concern and respect for the students and staff of Spanish River Community High School that School District Administration has decided to reassign Principal William Latson effective immediately,” the district announced in a statement.
As for Latson, he told the Palm Beach Post he regrets the verbiage he used when responding via email to the concerned parent. He said his words “did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
“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,” he added.
News of Latson’s reassignment comes not long after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) made headlines for comparing the migrant detention facilities along the country’s southern border to Nazi concentration camps.
“I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity that ‘Never Again’ means something,” she said last month during an Instagram Live story. “The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) doubled down on Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, telling reporters she doesn’t understand why the 29-year-old politician’s comments are controversial.
She described the comparison as “very simple,” adding she doesn’t “even know why this is a controversial thing for her to say.” Omar also argued the U.S. needs to “abolish” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.