The former Florida high school principal who made national headlines last year for refusing to say the Holocaust was a “factual, historical event” has been fired again, about a month after he was rehired.
The Palm Beach County School Board voted unanimously Monday morning to rescind an Oct. 7 vote rehiring former Spanish River Community High School Principal William Latson. The initial 4-3 vote to rehire Latson and give him $152,000 in back pay came after an administrative judge ruled in August that the Boca Raton principal should not have been fired.
Latson’s rehiring decision was met with backlash, including from the Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who requested the cancellation of Latson’s professional educator certificate.
Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri then called for another vote because he said School Board members might not have realized that the judge’s ruling was a recommendation, the Sun Sentinel reported.
The decision drew more than 1,000 voicemails of public comments last week on whether Latson should be hired or fired. There were so many comments, the School Board had to postpone the vote for Monday.
Latson last week also issued a video apology for his Holocaust remarks and said he was not and had never been a Holocaust denier.
“When I wrote to a parent in 2018 that as an employee of Palm Beach County Schools, I could not state that the Holocaust was a historical fact, I was wrong,” Latson said in the video. “I apologize to the Palm Beach County community, the School Board, the school administration, the parents, students, teachers of Palm Beach County, the Jewish community, and everyone offended or hurt by my mistake.”
Latson has been employed by the school district since he was reinstated last month though it’s not clear if he will continue working until the School Board votes on a final order Nov. 10, according to the Palm Beach Post.
His lawyer Thomas Elfers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
WHY WAS THE SPANISH RIVER HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL FIRED?
Latson, who has worked for the Palm Beach public school district for more than 20 years, had a nearly spotless record and had been the principal of Spanish River High for 11 years. He set off a national controversy after emails he wrote to a Spanish River mom in 2018 surfaced last year.
In those emails, Latson told the mother that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” and that he couldn’t say the Holocaust was real because he worked at a public school and could not take a position on the matter.
Latson — and the district— were put in the hot seat, with local and state officials calling for Latson to be fired and an explanation into why the district took so long to act. At the time, Superintendent Donald E. Fennoy II said he had lost confidence in Latson’s leadership.
When the School Board fired Latson in October 2019, officials said it was not because of his comments but because of “ethical misconduct” and “failure to carry out job responsibilities,” including not responding to messages from school district officials during the news coverage of his comments.
This article will be updated.