South Florida Sun Sentinel | by Lois K. Solomon | November 10, 2020
William Latson, the disgraced former principal whose comments about the Holocaust caused an international uproar, was officially fired on Tuesday by the Palm Beach County School Board.
The board last week had agreed to terminate his employment, for the second time, but issued a final order on Tuesday that rejected several rulings by a state administrative judge who recommended Latson’s reinstatement.
The board voted unanimously without comment. Latson, who had been principal at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, can appeal the ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal. His attorney did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Contradicting the judge’s ruling, the final order said “Dr. Latson’s actions did rise to the level of gross insubordination.” The order said he “demonstrated misconduct in office” and “failed to take responsibility and be accountable for his acts or omissions and failed to cooperate with others in protecting and advancing the District and its students.”
The controversy dates to 2018 when, in email conversations with a parent, Latson detailed his efforts to implement Spanish River’s Holocaust curriculum, a state mandate since 1994. He wrote that not every family had been amenable to the lessons.
Latson told a parent in an email, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”
“I work to expose students to certain things, but not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be and I can’t force that issue,” Latson wrote.
The School Board received thousands of comments from all over the world from Holocaust survivors, their family members and others outraged by Latson’s comments.
After the story received international attention, Latson was reassigned, then fired but then rehired in October on the recommendation of the administrative law judge, who said the firing was improper.
The judge, Robert S. Cohen, ruled in August that the school district failed to prove Latson “engaged in misconduct in office, incompetence, or gross insubordination by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The judge also said Latson had no prior discipline, so terminating him violated the district’s progressive discipline practices. However, several board members said that finding was in error because there is no progressive discipline requirement for administrators.
The rehiring created another backlash, and the school board decided unanimously on Nov. 2 to rescind it.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says he plans to take disciplinary action on Latson’s professional license.