Casting doubt on whether the Holocaust took place not only cost a Boca Raton high school principal his leadership post, but created waves in Washington, D.C.
A day after Palm Beach County school administrators reassigned William Latson from his onetime job as principal of Spanish River Community High School for comments he allegedly made about the Holocaust, Florida Congressman Ted Deutch chimed in.
School officials said Latson made a “grave error in judgment in the verbiage” Latson used in April 2018 when responding to a mother’s inquiry about Holocaust education at the high school.
“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 wrote.
School officials said Latson was counseled after his comments were reported, and that “he also spent several days at the United States Holocaust Museum to increase his personal knowledge.”
Despite the efforts, “his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community,” and Latson was reassigned to a district position, officials said.
But in a press release issued Tuesday, Deutch took umbrage at the words used by both Latson and district officials.
Deutch, the founder of the Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, said he was “shocked” that the high school principal couldn’t say that the Holocaust “is a factual, historical event.”
“And I cannot believe the school district labeled this incident and the principal’s leadership a ‘distraction,’” Deutch said.
As a result, Deutch said he wants to make Holocaust education a bigger priority at the national level.
“My Task Force, together with Senator Jackie Rosen and her colleagues in the Senate, and Elan Carr, the Administration’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, will make Holocaust education a national priority,” Deutch said in the release.
“Holocaust denial feeds anti-Semitism, which leads too often to violence and death, here in America and around the world. Bold steps are required – by all of us – to ensure the history of the Holocaust and the Nazis’ efforts to eradicate the Jewish people are never questioned – anywhere,” he added.
On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott also called for the firing of Latson, not just his reassignment.
“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,” Scott tweeted.
The Washington chatter may have prompted the Palm Beach County school district to schedule a press conference about the matter.
Palm Beach Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said Tuesday afternoon he will address reporters at the Fulton-Holland Educational Services Center in Palm Springs at noon tomorrow.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican who is Jewish and who was one of the first legislators to demand that Latson be fired, continued to pile on.
— By Ana Ceballos.