Earlier this year, former principal of the Spanish River Community High School, Florida, William Latson, and the Palm Beach County School Board gained national attention after it was revealed that the former principal doubted the Holocaust in an exchange with a student’s parent.
On Tuesday, Oct. 29, Latson was fired after School Board voted 5-2 on its decision to end his employment effective on Nov. 21, on grounds of “ethical misconduct” and “failure to carry out job responsibilities,” CNN reported, citing records from the board meeting. Latson had previously been reassigned after revelations about his views of the Holocaust surfaced.
“Latson failed to respond to communications from his supervisors and failed to assist the District in addressing the serious disruption caused by the aforementioned email and news coverage,” a statement from the school district said, CNN reported.
Latson, who sat quietly in the front row as teachers and his private attorney spoke in his defense Wednesday, left the school board meeting room in tears when the meeting ended. He declined to comment, according to The Palm Beach Post.
In April 2018, a parent emailed Latson to ask how the school teaches students about the Holocaust, Latson responded, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a district employee.”
“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” Latson wrote in one of the emails reported by The Palm Beach Post. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”
Latson apologized and insisted that he did believe the Holocaust was a historical fact. Before his remarks were widely spread, he had left for a previously planned vacation to Jamaica.
He alerted supervisors that he was leaving but failed to respond to phone and text messages left by district administrators trying to reach him about the worsening political fallout.
Latson’s attorney blamed poor cellphone service and the fact that he was traveling for the failure to respond.
But the district concluded his conduct amounted to “ethical misconduct” and “failure to carry out job responsibilities.”
In an email to high school staff obtained by CNN, Latson had written that his comments to the parent were “not accurately relayed.”