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A Florida Principal’s Reassignment Raises Questions About the Quality of Holocaust Education

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A gate with the inscription ‘Work Sets You Free’ at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial on January 25th, 2019 in Oranienburg, Germany. Starting in 1936, the Sachsenhausen facility was used by the Nazis starting in 1936, initially for political prisoners, then later also for Jews and other religious minorities, homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war.

A Florida public high school principal in a school district with a nationally recognized Holocaust curriculum was reassigned this week after suggesting to a parent that the Holocaust was not a factual event.

Holocaust education in the United States is established at the state level, and Florida is one of 11 states where it is mandatory in public schools. Florida’s mandate was passed in 1994, requiring the Holocaust “to be taught as a uniquely important event in modern history, emphasizing the systemic and state-sponsored violence, which distinguish it from other genocides.” 

When a parent at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida, was curious about how this mandate was being implemented, she emailed former principal William Latson, who noted in his response that “the curriculum is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not the same beliefs.”

After a series of email exchanges and in-person meetings seeking to improve the school’s Holocaust education, the mother still felt dissatisfied with Latson’s desire to remain “politically neutral” regarding the existence of the Holocaust, the Palm Beach Post reported. The school district announced that it would reassign Latson to another position in the district on Monday, after the Palm Beach Post published the email correspondence. Latson later apologized for what he said in his emails.

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