Re-fired: Florida board reverses decision on Holocaust-denying principal, sacks him again

“I rescind my vote today, and we’re going to fix this today,” said board member Marcia Andrews.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

The school board of Palm Beach County, Florida, voted unanimously Monday to rescind an October 7 vote to rehire William Latson, a high school principal who was fired last year after telling a parent, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event.”

Board members Marcia Andrews, Chuck Shaw, Barbara McQuinn, and Debra Robinson reversed their previous positions and voted not to approve an administrative law judge’s recommended order to reinstate Latson.

Board members Frank Barbieri, Karen Brill, and Erica Whitfield voted against Latson’s reinstatement for the second time.

“As a school board, we missed the point a long time ago in getting this right,” Andrews said.

“I rescind my vote today, and we’re going to fix this today,” she said.

McQuinn said, “What Dr. Latson did was open the door for the students whose parents are Holocaust deniers to, for generations to come, deny the atrocity of the Holocaust.”

Brill said, “The actions of this school board today will become our legacy. Worldwide attention is focused on us. I implore all of you to vote your conscience and do the right thing.”

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Barbieri quoted Latson’s 2018 email which said, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I’m not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”

Barbieri said, “I find it repugnant and absolutely unacceptable that a principal in one of our schools would use his employment with the Palm Beach County school district as an excuse for this absurd statement.”

He said that after Latson made the statement, “He not only doubled down on it, but he tripled down on it.”

Latson was not present for the meeting, but a recorded message from him was played.

Latson said in part, “I am not a Holocaust denier. I have never been a Holocaust denier. I am sorry that my comments caused people to think that.”

Several members of the public were present and allowed to address the board prior to the vote.

Wayne Posner, a former Jupiter Town Council member, said, “This is a moral issue, not a money issue, not a rules issue. This is a moral issue.”

Anne Hirsch, a child of Holocaust survivors, said, “This hearing is not about Dr. Latson. He’s already outed himself. We know he’s anti-Semitic just by the fact that he questioned the Holocaust.”

“This is really a hearing about you people, what you are going to do, your responsibility in this. That’s what this is about,” Hirsch said.

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Yael Hamaoui, a senior at Olympic Heights High School, told the board that she was missing calculus class to stand as a representative for her peers.

“If you decide to rehire him, you send a dangerous message that Holocaust denial and equivocation is a viable position,” she said.

“Will you validate the anti-Semitism directed towards me and my peers? I can’t believe you’re even considering it. Please don’t let this happen. Don’t let us down,” Hamaoui said.

Rabbi Leib Ezagui said, “The decision here will go down in history and will always be remembered. The names of this board will be remembered in history as either those that turned to the right or as those that turned a blind eye.”

Meir Rapaport, a Holocaust survivor, pulled back his sleeve to show the board the numbers tattooed on his forearm, 184482.

“You should remember you are the judges, and the Almighty stands in front of you here right now, and he wants to see how you will judge,” Rapaport said.

Following the vote which rescinded Latson’s reinstatement, the board discussed modifications to a final order.

The board is scheduled to vote on November 10 on the approval of a final order which is expected to include suspension without pay and termination of Latson’s employment. In the interest of time, the board will not allow public comment during this meeting due to the November 11 deadline for completion of the order.