Florida principal reassigned after saying Holocaust was not 'factual'

After furor and calls for his resignation, the Palm Beach County school board announced the principal would be moved to an administrative role.
Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida.Google Earth
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By Ben Kesslen

A Florida principal has been reassigned to an administrative position after he told a parent in an email that the Holocaust was not a “factual, historical event.”

The Palm Beach Post revealed Friday that in a 2018 email exchange with a parent, Principal William Latson of the Spanish River Community High School said he could not “force” Holocaust lessons on children because some people don’t believe the Holocaust happened.

The parent, who had emailed to ask about Holocaust education at the high school in Boca Raton, Florida, replied saying, “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” according to the emails obtained by the daily newspaper.

Latson responded saying he had to be politically neutral and couldn’t affirm the parent's correct claim.

“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,” the principal at the school of more than 2000 students wrote.

On Monday, following intense backlash and calls for Latson’s resignation, the Palm Beach County School District said he will no longer be the principal at the Spanish River High and instead will work in a “district position.”

“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,” the district wrote in a statement.

The district said Latson “made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage” of his email, and that the district and the school board do not support what he said. The district took action following Latson’s email exchange with the parent, they said, and Spanish River added more Holocaust education to its curriculum. Still, the district said, after article came out, Latson’s “leadership has become a major distraction for the school community.”

A school district spokesperson told NBC News that Latson’s new role will be administrative and out of the classroom, but did not specify what exactly the former principal will be doing.

Ben Kesslen

Ben Kesslen writes for NBC News.