A head teacher who told a parent he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event” will be rehired after a vote by the school board that fired him.
William Latson made the comments to a parent in 2018 and was later removed from the Boca Raton high school in Florida where he had been head teacher. Last October, the school board voted 5-2 to fire him, citing not just the comments but Latson’s refusal to answer questions about them.
Latson sued, saying he had been wrongfully terminated, and in August, a judge concluded that he should have been reprimanded but not fired. The board voted Wednesday night to rehire him rather than face a protracted and costly legal battle. He’ll be given an administrative job, rather than one with students, and will receive $152,000 (£117,000) in back pay, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The board was divided 4-3, with the only Jewish board member arguing strenuously against Latson’s rehiring. “If we rehire Dr. Latson, it is going be a stain on this school district that will never go away,” Karen Brill said during the meeting.
Palm Beach County is heavily Jewish, and Spanish River Community High School, which Latson led, has many Jewish students. In an email to a parent who asked about the school’s Holocaust education curriculum, he wrote, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in the position to do so as a school district employee. You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”
Palm Beach County is also where the longstanding Democratic congresswoman, Lois Frankel, is facing a primary challenging from right-wing Republican Laura Loomer, in a matchup that has divided local Jews and reflects deep divides in American politics.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.