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After Outcry, School Board Fires Principal a Second Time

William Latson called Holocaust a 'belief'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2020 2:52 PM CST

(Newser) – A former high school principal in Florida who was reassigned, fired, and then rehired after making controversial remarks about the Holocaust has been fired for a second time. The Palm Beach County School Board on Monday voted unanimously to rescind its Oct. 7 vote to reinstate William Latson, former principal of Spanish River High in Boca Raton, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. In a 2018 email to a parent, Latson described the Holocaust as a "belief" and said students could opt out of Holocaust education. "Not everybody believes the Holocaust happened," he wrote, telling the parent he had to stay "politically neutral." The school board decided to revisit its 4-3 vote in favor of reinstatement after an outcry in which it received thousands of comments from around the world, including many from Holocaust survivors.

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Board member Debra Robinson, one of the four who rescinded their votes, says she hadn't realized how big a role Holocaust denial plays in anti-Semitism, the Palm Beach Post reports. "Until this, I really did not process that Holocaust denial was a real thing," she says. "That kind of boggles my mind. So let me say now that I am sorry for the pain that my actions, that my vote, contributed to." Board chairman Frank Barbieri said he decided to hold the second vote because board members may not have realized that a judge's decision that Latson was improperly fired in October 2019 was only a recommendation. Latson, who was assigned to the district's transportation department after being rehired, issued a video apology last week. "I am not a Holocaust denier," he said. "I have never been a Holocaust denier." He won't formally be fired until the board holds its final vote on Nov. 10. (Read more Holocaust stories.)

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