High School Principal's Holocaust denial in a heavily Jewish city and county

It would be shocking anywhere in the United States for a public high school principal to embrace Holocaust denial, but for it to happen in a majority-Jewish city in the most heavily-Jewish county in the country defies belief. Yet, it not only happened in Boca Raton, Florida, and it took over a year of discussion for the principal to back down and apologize for embracing a crackpot belief that is favored by Jew-haters of all stripes, from the mullahs of Iran to the neo-Nazis of Europe and America.

Elise Solee of Yahoo News writes:

Florida high school principal William Latson reportedly told the mother of a student, “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” regarding the history curriculum.

According to 2018 emails obtained by The Palm Beach Post, Latson of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Fla. said that Holocaust education is “to be introduced but not forced upon individuals, as we all have the same right but not all the same beliefs.”

Latson was answering the mother’s question on how that portion of WWII history was prioritized — the school holds annual Holocaust assemblies and focused one-day lessons for 10th graders. “We advertise it to the 10th grade parents as [there] are some who don’t want their children to participate and we have to allow them the ability to decline,” warned Latson in the email.

That mother, who did not want the newspaper to publish her name, reportedly told Latson, “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or a belief.”

However, the principal insisted, “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently, my thoughts or beliefs have nothing to do with this because I am a public servant. I have the role to be politically neutral but support all groups in the school...”

He added, “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 says his philosophy remains the same for slavery.

Does Latson, whose high school has 2500 students, think that slavery is a “belief” not a fact? His comment seems incoherent.

Principal William Latson (photo credit: Twitter, via 2020 Access Online)

Because the population of Boca Raton is roughly two-thirds Jewish, with a preponderance of elderly residents, Principal Latson likely could find Holocaust survivors among the population whose taxes provide his salary. Palm Beach County is reckoned to be the most heavily Jewish county in the United States, “more Jewish than New York,” in the words of the Palm Beach Post. So, Principal Latson’s stance seems to me to contain a bit of animus.

The mother, whose identity is being protected because of the danger of retaliation from Jew-haters, told Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post:

She didn’t doubt that Latson knew the Holocaust was real, she said in an interview, but she feared his reluctance to say so stemmed from a desire to avoid confronting parents who deny the Holocaust’s reality.

It took more than a year of campaigning by the mother and her allies:

After her email exchange with Latson left her troubled, the mother pushed for a face-to-face meeting. In May 2018, three weeks after the email exchange, she and a second concerned mother met with Latson and a group of school district administrators who supervise him.
At the meeting, Latson provided the parents with a list of Holocaust educational efforts at the school.

But the mother wasn’t satisfied. She told Latson her child had informed her that not all of the supposed educational efforts were carried out in the classroom.

She asked that teachers be required to document their Holocaust lessons and readings. The suggestion was initially embraced, she said, but ultimately ignored.

Both mothers recalled that Latson again was reticent to state that the Holocaust was a historic event, a fact that angered the second mother, who expected the meeting would have resolved any tensions.

Instead, the second mother said, “I came out of there feeling so much worse. How do you pick and choose history?”

Latson did not respond to questions about his statements in meetings with the mothers.

Finally, after a year:

In a statement to The Post, Latson apologized for the way he expressed himself in his emails, saying it was not indicative of his actual beliefs or regard for historical fact.

“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.

“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,” he continued. He pointed out that Spanish River High’s educational offerings on the Holocaust exceed the state’s requirements.

It sounds grudging to me, the product of pressure, not belief.

We have let our public education fall into the hands of people with frightening agendas.

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