Florida principal refused to call the Holocaust a 'factual, historical event'

A Florida principal has come under fire for refusing in emails to say that the Holocaust happened because "not everyone believes" it.

In the messages, first published and reported by The Palm Beach Post, William Latson, principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida, wrote, "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened."

"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 in an email to a mother of a student at Spanish River.

Latson has since been reassigned to a position with the Palm Beach County school district, according to a district spokesperson.

The email was sent in April 2018 after a parent, concerned about Holocaust education at her child's school, reached out to the principal for information about how the historical event was taught.

"You have your thoughts, but we are a public school, and not all of our parents have the same beliefs," he wrote.

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"I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly," he said.

He made it clear that his "personal beliefs are separate and will always be as they have no place."

He apologized for his comments, telling The Palm Beach Post that the school's curriculum of Holocaust education exceeds state regulations.

“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 to the Post.

The history of the Holocaust has been mandatory in the Florida public school curriculum since 1994, when the state Legislature passed the Holocaust Education Bill.

In Palm Beach County, where Boca Raton is located, the Jewish population is 134,200, according to a study published in 2018 by Brandeis University.

"Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment," said a statement Monday from the Palm Beach County School District. "He was instructed to further expand the Holocaust curriculum at Spanish River. He also spent several days at the United States Holocaust Museum to increase his personal knowledge."

"I assure you that this situation is being investigated at the highest levels of the District Administration," Frank Barbieri Jr., chairman of the school board, wrote in a statement.

"The School Board of Palm Beach County is, and always has been, committed to teaching all students, in every grade level, a historically accurate Holocaust curriculum; one which leaves no room for erroneous revisions of fact or the scourge of anti-Semitism," Barbieri said.

In addition to calls on social media for the firing of Latson, more than 5,000 people signed a petition calling for his resignation.

Neither Latson nor a representative for the county school board responded to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida principal refused to call the Holocaust a 'factual, historical event'