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Palm Beach (Fla.) board reverses decision, ousts high school principal for a second time

Nov. 2, 2020
William Latson had been fired in 2019 over comments made about the Holocaust, and had been reinstated after a court ruling earlier this year.

The Palm Beach County (Fla.) School Board has voted for the second time to oust a principal amid outrage over his remarks about the Holocaust.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the board's 7-0 vote was the latest turn in the battle over the career of former Spanish River High School Principal William Latson.

Latson was fired last year after sparking outrage by telling a parent he "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."

He appealed his termination, and an administrative law judge ruled in August that the board had gone too far in firing him.

Reluctantly, board members reinstated him Oct. 7 on a 4-3 vote, arguing that failing to do so opened them up to more costly litigation.

After an outpouring of outrage, School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri moved for another vote.

The new decision cancels the board's acceptance of the judge's recommendation that it rehire Latson. He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Board members are expected to approve a final order Nov. 10.

Latson had returned to work in a district administrative job after his reinstatement.

Before the board's vote, officials heard from several residents who called for Latson to be removed. The decision is likely to be challenged by Latson.

Board member Marcia Andrews said her vote last month to reinstate Latson was based on incomplete information.

“When we make a mistake, we have to own it, fix it and never let it happen again,” she said.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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