The principal defended himself after telling a parent that he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event”
Thanks to a series of emails reported on by a local paper, it’s being revealed that a Florida principal was allowing his school’s curriculum to reflect the fact that some parents might not “believe” the Holocaust happened. The mom of a student at Spanish River High School started off with a simple question for Principal William Latson — she wanted to know how the Holocaust was being taught at the school.
What he told her was nothing short of completely disturbing.
She started out simply wanting to ensure that the school was making Holocaust education “a priority” and Latson’s response was concerning. He told her that there were “a variety of activities” on the subject, but that lessons about the WWII-era atrocity were “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”
A bit taken aback, she tried to get him to clarify what she assumed was an error in explaining himself. “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” she wrote. “It is not a right or a belief.”
“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” he wrote back, according to emails obtained by The Palm Beach Post through a public records request. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.” He told her he had “the role to be politically neutral but support all groups in the school.”
Latson told her, “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.”
As though it’s not factual history and simply a political stance.
The stunning revelation highlights one mom’s year-long effort to address the fact that a school principal was seemingly unable to recognize truth from fiction when it comes to the deaths of 6 million Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.
In an interview, The Post reports that the mom didn’t doubt that Latson believed the Holocaust happened — she simply felt that he was holding this neutral stance to avoid confronting parents who deny the Holocaust’s reality.
After the email exchange, the mom and another parent met with Latson to talk about including the Holocaust memoir “Night,” by Elie Wiesel, into the school’s required reading list. The mom also asked for yearly Holocaust education assemblies for each grade level, but that hasn’t happened yet. Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald told The Post the assemblies would happen in the next school year.
“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 in a message to The Post. “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.”
And let’s not mince words here about what even a whiff of Holocaust denial can mean. The Holocaust Memorial Museum states on their website that they consider Holocaust denial to be a form of anti-Semitism. Those who hold this erroneous and deeply wrong belief are, “generally motivated by hatred of Jews and build on the claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests.”
“These views perpetuate long-standing antisemitic stereotypes, hateful charges that were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Holocaust. Holocaust denial, distortion, and misuse all undermine the understanding of history,” they write.
At a later meeting with Latson and two other regional superintendents, the mom said she no longer had faith in Latson’s leadership. During that meeting, he again referred to the Holocaust as “a personal belief” and said he couldn’t take a stance as a school employee. He also told the mom she was accusing him of being an anti-Semite. She tells The Post that she recalls telling Latson, “I think you are protecting those who don’t believe in the Holocaust.”