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State And School Officials Call For Resignation Of Principal Who Couldn't Say Holocaust Happened

William Latson was reassigned to a district office job after The Palm Beach Post published an email exchange he had with a parent. He wrote he couldn't say the Holocaust was a factual event.
Gina Fontana
via the South Florida Sun Sentinel
William Latson was reassigned to a district office job after The Palm Beach Post published an email exchange he had with a parent. He wrote he couldn't say the Holocaust was a factual event.

William Latson, the principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, was removed from his post this week. The Palm Beach Post reported on an email exchange he had with a parent – he wrote he could not say the Holocaust was a factual event.

Latson was reassigned to a district office job after the Post published its story. The Palm Beach County school district will likely vote on whether to renew his contract on July 24th.Listen to the July 12, 2019 episode of the South Florida Roundup here. The segment on Holocaust education runs 1:00-25:00. There are also segments on the Jeffrey Epstein story (25:00-42:00) and health care access in the Keys (42:00-52:00).

Palm Beach schools superintendent Donald Fennoy announced Wednesday in a video statement that he will recommend Latson be terminated.

Several public officials, including Sen. Rick Scott, have also called for the same outcome.

On the South Florida Roundup, WLRN’s Nadege Green filled in for host Tom Hudson. She spoke with Palm Beach Post education reporter Andrew Marra, who broke the story; state Rep. Mike Caruso, whose district includes Boca Raton, and Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Holocaust Studies education specialist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

WLRN: Rep. Caruso we've seen several lawmakers call for the resignation or firing of principal Latson. What are your thoughts on how the district should handle this and what should happen?

MIKE CARUSO: There's nothing about being a high school principal that prevents anyone from stating the Holocaust was a fact. Mr. Latson's comments were reprehensible and offensive to Jews throughout the world as well as other groups who were also terminated during the Holocaust.

I called for the resignation of Mr. Latson. I called for his termination if he refused to resign. I met with Superintendent Dr. Fennoy yesterday and he assured me that he was very resolute in his commitment to see that Mr Latson no longer is in a position to shape the minds of any of our children in Palm Beach County. He is calling for the non-renewal of his contract, which terminated on June 30th. It expired on June 30th. .

Miriam, it's required that Holocaust history is taught in Florida public schools. Can you say more on the importance of historical accuracy and how you teach the Holocaust to school-age students?

MIRIAM KASSENOFF: I only have one note that I want to start on regarding that word "neutrality," remaining neutral. When I first heard about this while traveling, I recall that Elie Wiesel, the famous Holocaust survivor and author, has said, Regarding the Holocaust we must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

So with that said, we started a very robust strong Holocaust education program [in Miami-Dade] about 20 years ago. We have at least 12 electives that students choose to go to. We've had just last year about 800 students take part in those electives on the Holocaust.

Copyright 2019 WLRN 91.3 FM

Nadege Greencovers social justice issues for WLRN.
Alexander Gonzalez is a recent graduate of the University of Miami. He majored in English and was the the editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane newspaper from 2014-15. He was WLRN's digital intern during summer 2015. He subscribes to too many podcasts and can't get away from covering the arts in Miami.