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School district reassigns Spanish River High principal

The school district has reassigned Spanish River High principal William Latson after a Holocaust controversy.

This is the district’s statement in full released at 1 p.m. Monday. Latson did not respond to an earlier email.   

The School District of Palm Beach County is, and always has been, working diligently to be a leader in mandatory Holocaust education for students in grades K-12. The District’s curriculum is based on historical fact.

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.

Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote in an email stating, “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.” In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board. 

District administrators began addressing this matter when the email messages were brought to the attention of the Regional Office. Based on a series of meetings with the Regional Office, Mr. Latson was counseled about the choices he made in responding to a parent in email messages. Additionally, he was instructed to further expand the Holocaust curriculum at Spanish River. He also spent several days at the United States Holocaust Museum to increase his personal knowledge.

Despite these efforts, his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community. It is, therefore, in the best interest of students and the larger school community to reassign Mr. Latson to a District position. The Regional Office will immediately follow the District’s process in the selection of a principal for Spanish River High School.


Update:  State Rep. Emily Slosberg released this statement: 

“Statements by the principal of Spanish River High school that he cannot say the Holocaust is a factual event are anti-Semitic and deeply offensive. They have no place at Spanish River High or anywhere else, especially a school teaching about atrocities of the Holocaust which has been mandatory in Florida’s public schools since 1994, when the Legislature adopted the state’s Holocaust Education Bill.  Therefore, I am commending the parents who brought the situation to light.”

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