Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson was emailing with a concerned parent in April 2018 asking about the curriculum for teaching about the Holocaust when he wrote that he wouldn’t call the genocide “a factual, historical event.”
Latson added in the now-published emails that Holocaust studies are “dealt with in a variety of ways” but that the “curriculum is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”
When the unidentified parent said that “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event” and “not a right or a belief,” Latson did not back down from his stance, which is widely held by modern-day Nazis and other Holocaust-deniers across the world.
“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently,” Latson wrote in a subsequent email. “My thoughts or beliefs have nothing to do with this because I am a public servant… I work to expose students to certain things but not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be and I can’t force that issue… 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.”
Spanish River Community High School is in Palm Beach County, Fla. A 2018 study conducted by Brandeis University reported that the number of Jewish children living in Palm Beach County increased from 11,000 in 2005 to 17,300 in 2018.
The public release of these emails did no go over well in an area with a burgeoning Jewish population and under the national threat of increasing hate crimes based on anti-Semitism and strengthening movements claiming that the Holocaust was an elaborate hoax.
Latson has since apologized and the county school board defended him, saying he was “counseled” but not disciplined. He also toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington this summer – as if that somehow makes up for saying the Holocaust was not a factual event.
Because of course this happened in Florida. ?♀️ https://t.co/yDbl2hZcyP
— Gayla Schaefer (@AmericanXMom) July 7, 2019