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Fired Over Holocaust Comment, Palm Beach Principal William Latson Has Been Rehired

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) - William Latson, who was fired as Spanish River High School's principal last year over telling a student's mother that "not everyone believes the Holocaust happened," has his job back.

The school board voted Wednesday to reinstate Latson and give him $152,000 in back pay. The 4-3 vote followed a Florida administrative judge's ruling that he should not have been fired.

The board made it clear it was reluctant to rehire Latson but feared a lawsuit and costly legal battle.

Last October, Latson was fired by the board on grounds of "ethical misconduct" and "failure to carry out job responsibilities." The official justification for his termination was the failure to return messages from school district officials in the days after his comments made international news.

Latson had initially been reassigned from the Boca Raton school to a district office job because of the outcry over his email to a mother who inquired whether the school's students study the Holocaust. Latson, who had been at Spanish River for eight years, replied to the mother that as an educator his job was to be "politically neutral."

"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," he wrote.

The mother, thinking Latson had expressed himself poorly, wrote back, saying, "The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or belief."

Latson replied, "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened." He added, "You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs."

The Germans under Nazi rule killed six million Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazis also exterminated another five million people during World War II including Slavs, Roma, also known as Gypsies, gays, and people with disabilities.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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