Florida principal fired over Holocaust remarks rehired by school board

Principal fired over Holocaust remarks rehired by school board

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A former Florida high school principal who was fired last year over comments he made about the Holocaust was rehired Wednesday.

By a 4-3 vote, the Palm Beach County School board voted to reach a settlement with William Latson, who was suspended in July 2019 and then fired three months later as principal of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, WPTV reported.

Under the terms of the settlement, Latson’s suspension and subsequent termination will be rescinded, the television station reported. Latson will be awarded more than $152,000 in lost wages, according to WPEC. Latson will be reassigned to a position in the school district that is "commensurate with his qualifications,” the school board said.

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Latson was removed after an email exchange with a parent in which he wrote that “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” WPTV reported.

“I work to expose students to certain things but not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be and I can’t force that issue,” Latson wrote in the 2018 email, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “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."

Jonathan Larkins, the CEO of Busy Body Fitness Centers & Upload Fitness in Boca Raton, told WPEC in 2019 that he wanted to fly Latson to the site of the former concentration camp in Poland.

Latson was originally fired for violating the school board’s Code of Ethics and performing misconduct while in office, WPTV reported.

However, Administrative Law Judge Robert Cohen later ruled that “Latson did not commit incompetence, misconduct, or gross insubordination,” the television station reported. While “Latson did commit several acts of poor judgment,” his conduct “did not rise to the level of just cause for suspension or termination because the conduct was not so severe as to support that level of discipline," the judge ruled.

On Wednesday, school board member Karen Brill said that while the school district was “inept” in its investigation, Latson’s comments were offensive and he should not be rehired.

“You have already been tried and convicted in the eyes of the public, and that is something you will carry with you for the remainder of your career,” Brill said. “I hope you understand, Mr. Latson, that this is on you and that you finally take accountability for your words and your actions.”

Board member Marcia Andrews said firing Latson was too strong of a penalty.

“It’s bad stuff that happened with him saying this, and back and forth,” Andrews said. “We have to train our people to let them know that they must be better.”