Holocaust deniers are an unfortunate reality, as folks have been pretending it didn’t happen since the atrocious genocide was committed.
While people are entitled to their own opinions, denying facts has no place in a school. And those who support that denial certainly do not belong in a leadership role.
The school board of Boca Raton’s Spanish River Community High School would seem to agree on that point, as they voted 5-2 to fire former principal William Latson. Latson made headlines in July when emails where he refused to refute Holocaust deniers surfaced.
At the time he was reassigned to an unspecified non-leadership position within the district.
Despite the fact that the Holocaust is a required part of the curriculum in Florida schools, Latson told a concerned parent in an email that he:
“had the role to be politically neutral [in regards to Holocaust curriculum]”
“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. Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”
Latson even went so far as to refuse to require Holocaust education because it shouldn’t be:
“forced upon individuals because we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs”
He has since issued a statement that he regrets the language he used in the email.
“I regret that the verbiage that I used when responding to an email message from a parent, one year ago, 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.”
Latson was fired on the grounds of ethical misconduct and failure to carry out job responsibilities.
Some of the people who came to the hearing to defend Latson were Holocaust deniers themselves, in addition to some of the teachers who worked for the school while he was principal.
Video shared by local station WPTV news showed one woman, who said she was a former history teacher from New Jersey, trying to refute the numbers of those killed in concentration camps. She even went so far as to claim concentration camps didn’t exist.
“There’s lots of evidence from the Red Cross that the numbers of deceased in the work camps—they were not other types of camps, they were work camps…”
Folks on Twitter were not impressed by Latson’s claims in the email.
The comments were not “controversial”, they were ignorant, dangerous, and demonstrably false.
— Kerry “Individual-π” Maxwell (@KerryMaxwell) October 31, 2019
Well William Latson, using your logic we should close all schools with the reason that nothing is factual. What facts do you require, dead bodies, nazi notes, footage of the atrocities (which I have viewed in their entirety and still hear the screams)? https://t.co/Bb0CTGwHAh
— Silence DoGood (@SilenceDoGoodPA) October 31, 2019
Fire his ass yes, and stop putting up with this nonsense. William Latson can take his doubts elsewhere; not in the school system.
— ????Patsy????Dryden ☘️???????? (@Patta47cake) October 31, 2019
Totally proven Hollocaust doubted by a fool who doesn’t want to believe respected historians, documentary evidence plus photos and film of the actual victims. A well deserved firing.
— Claire Bel-Etoile (@claire_Beletoil) October 31, 2019
Many were happy with the school boards decision to terminate Latson’s employment, though some were critical of the 2 council members who voted to let him keep his job.
As he should of been, if someone says that it didn’t happen they’re misinforming the people they are telling it to, in this case young, impressionable minds. He should never be allowed to teach again. He’s obviously an anti semite
Good. We don’t need fact deniers teaching children.
— Vickie Finlay (@FinlayVickie) October 31, 2019
“The Palm Beach County School Board voted 5-2 to terminate William Latson’s employment”
2 people voted to keep him? Seems those two board members should resign or be removed immediately.
— Feel The Press ???? (@feelthepress) October 31, 2019
The only way to prevent the spread of malicious misinformation like denying the atrocities committed during the Holocaust is to educate kids about what happened. Allowing parents to prevent their children from learning about the past keeps those children from having all of the facts and being able to come to their own conclusions.
Education about the past is vital in preventing us from repeating it in the future.
“Laurence Rees has spent twenty-five years meeting the survivors and perpetrators of the Third Reich and the Holocaust.”