In the email records obtained by the Palm Beach Post through a public records request, a high school principal in Boca Raton, Florida was seen to tell a parent that the school wouldn’t force the Holocaust on its students as “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”
The email came amid a series of exchanges when the parent, a mother, who spoke to The Post anonymously, had emailed Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson in April 2018 to The parent, a mother, had emailed Latson in April 2018 to inquire about the school’s educational plan for teaching the Holocaust.
By her surprise, the school principal told the concerned parent that her child’s education would include a “variety of activities” related to the World War II-era genocide, but that the lessons are “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs,” according to emails obtained by the Palm Beach Post.
Latson wrote: “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” Latson wrote. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”
“The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” the mother reportedly responded to him. “It is not a right or a belief.”
However, 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 school district employee.”
He added that the school presents information about the Holocaust to the students and allows them to make their own decisions about it. He said it does the same when it comes to slavery.
The mom, who spoke to the newspaper anonymously, said she spent the next year fighting to make Holocaust education required, including a reading of “Night”, by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and mandatory assemblies. An application to have Holocaust assemblies for every grade level did not come to fruition, however, the mom informed the Post. Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald told the paper that was because of a time constraint and said the assemblies would happen in the upcoming school year.
The principal was never formally disciplined, Oswald said.
Latson agreed to assign “Night” to all sophomores, but the assemblies were never put in place, according to the Palm Beach Post. Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald told the newspaper that the school didn’t have time to implement the change, but that they will begin for the 2019-2020 year.
Latson, in a statement to the Palm Beach Post, apologized for the emails, saying the views he expressed: “did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust,” he 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.”
Latson, who was reportedly not disciplined over his conduct, visited Washington’s U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the summer following the email exchange so that he could learn more about the tragedy, according to Huff Post.