BOCA RATON, Fla. — The principal at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton is defending himself after he reportedly made controversial comments about the Holocaust.
William Latson was just reassigned to a district position after he told a parent in an email in 2018, "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."
Latson added that "not everyone believes the Holocaust happened."
Details of the story were first published in The Palm Beach Post.
In an email to school staff members obtained by WPTV, Latson wrote:
"I have been reassigned to the district office due to a statement that was not accurately relayed to the newspaper by one of our parents. It is unfortunate that someone can make a false statement and do so anonymously and it holds credibility but that is the world we live in."
Latson went on to thank his colleagues at Spanish River High School by saying, "I am honored to have been a part of the team and some of the great things you have done."
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott tweeted that he spoke with Dr. Donald Fennoy, the Superintendent of the Palm Beach County School District, and told him Latson should've been fired, not reassigned.
"There is no excuse for what he expressed. There is no excuse for holocaust denial. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism of any kind," Sen. Scott tweeted.
Spoke with @SuptFennoy this morning. This Principal should have been fired, not simply reassigned.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) July 9, 2019
There is no excuse for what he expressed. There is no excuse for holocaust denial. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism of any kind. https://t.co/xbKJYOMtdG
State Rep. Mike Caruso is also calling for Latson's termination.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Rep. Caruso wrote in part, "William Latson is unfit to educate our children and must be terminated immediately. He is either demonstrably incompetent or a Holocaust denier. Whichever he chooses to be, one thing is certain, neither of those options should be in a position to shape young minds."
Two other Florida lawmakers, State Rep. Randy Fine and State Sen. Lauren Book, said on social media they're working together to demand the firing of Latson.
On Monday, the Palm Beach County School District said Latson was reassigned "out of an abundance of concern and respect for the students and staff of Spanish River Community High School."
In a statement, a school district spokesperson said:
"Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote... In addition to being offensive, the principal's statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board."
The school district said Latson was counseled about his comments and has been reassigned effective immediately.
Latson could not be reached for comment.
Anti-Semitism expert Laurie Cardoza-Moore says her organization, "Proclaiming Justice to the Nations," has been seeing the rise of anti-Semitism in schools for some time.
"Our children are being exposed to the same propaganda that the Holocaust really didn't take place or it wasn't as bad as the way historians say it is," said Cardoza-Moore.
Cardoza-Moore said she strongly agrees with the politicians who have called for Principal Latson's resignation or termination.
"He has no business being employed by any academic or education capacity. He knew exactly what he was saying if you look at the initial email as an educated educator using a lower case "h" to state the Holocaust is grammatically inaccurate and it minimizes what happened, the Nazi atrocities against the Jews," she said.
Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy initialy scheduled to hold a news conference to address the developments and concerns with Latson on Wednesday but have since canceled blaming a scheduling conflict.
The district says it will now release a video statement on Wednesday.
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