Boca Raton, Florida principal refused to call Holocaust 'factual' | News Coverage from USA

Boca Raton, Florida principal refused to call Holocaust ‘factual’

A Florida principal has come under fire for refusing in emails to say that the Holocaust happened because “not everyone believes” that it happened.

The messages, first published and reported by the Palm Beach Post, show William Latson — the principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida — saying that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

“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,” wrote Latson in an email to a mother of a student at Spanish River.

The email was sent in April 2018, when a parent, concerned with Holocaust education at her child’s school, reached out to the principal for information about how the historical event was being taught.

“You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs,” he wrote.

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“I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly.”

He made it clear, however, that his “personal beliefs are separate and will always be as they have no place.”

He has since apologized for his comments, telling the Palm Beach Post that the school’s curriculum of Holocaust education exceeds state regulations.

“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,” Latson wrote to the Post.

The history of the Holocaust has been mandatory in the Florida public school curriculum since 1994, when the Florida Legislature passed the state’s Holocaust Education Bill.

And, in Palm Beach County, where Boca Raton is located, the Jewish population is 134,200, according to a study published in 2018 by Brandeis University.

“I assure you that this situation is being investigated at the highest levels of the District Administration,” Frank A. Barbieri, Jr., the chairman of The School Board of Palm Beach County, wrote in a statement.

“The School Board of Palm Beach County is, and always has been, committed to teaching all students, in every grade level, a historically accurate Holocaust curriculum; one which leaves no room for erroneous revisions of fact or the scourge of anti-Semitism,”

Amid calls on social media for the firing of Latson, more than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for his resignation.

Neither Latson nor a representative for the county school board responded to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

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