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Florida principal apologizes after refusing to call the Holocaust 'a factual, historical event'

The principal reportedly told a parent that "not everyone believes the Holocaust happened."
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

BOCA RATON, Fla. — More than a year ago, the principal at a Boca Raton high school reportedly told a parent that he couldn't say the Holocaust was "a factual, historical event."

The Palm Beach Post reported the principal added in the April 2018 email, "not everyone believes the Holocaust happened."

Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson is now apologizing for the comments. He was reassigned Monday, CBS reports.

"I regret that the verbiage that I used when responding to an email message from a parent, one year ago, did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust," Latson said in a statement to the Post.

The newspaper said the mother's original inquiry was about making sure the Holocaust education was "a priority."

The Washington Post said Latson's emails prompted much backlash amid "growing nationwide concern over Holocaust education in the United States."

The newspaper said Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank A. Barbieri, Jr. said Latson is "being investigated at the highest levels of the District Administration."

"The School Board of Palm Beach County is, and always has been, committed to teaching all students, in every grade level, a historically accurate Holocaust curriculum; one which leaves no room for erroneous revisions of fact or the scourge of anti-Semitism," Barbieri said in a statement.

The Washington Post said the mother met several times with school district officials to make changes to the Holocaust education. Because of her efforts, Elie Wiesel's memoir "Night" is now required reading for all sophomore English students and Holocaust assemblies will be offered to all students next year.

A member of the school's advisory council said she didn't think Latson's emails represented his actual beliefs. However, Karen Brill, the only Jewish member of the county school board, said she is "appalled that anyone in our district believes that its teaching may be opted out of," according to the Post.

A petition for Latson's resignation had more than 5,800 signatures as of Monday morning.

The Holocaust was state-sponsored persecution during World War II when six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said "holocaust" is Greek for "sacrifice by fire."

The museum said when the Nazis came to power in 1933 in Germany, they believed Jews were "inferior" to Germans and considered a threat to Germany's culture and community. To this day, there is no single document created by Nazi officials that details exactly how many people were killed in the Holocaust or during World War II.

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