Former Florida Principal Offered a Trip to Auschwitz After Telling a Parent 'Not Everyone Believes the Holocaust Happened'

A Florida business owner has offered to send a former local high school principal to visit Auschwitz after the educator lost his position for making controversial comments to a parent regarding the Holocaust.

William Latson had been, until recently, the principal of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, be he was reassigned after sending an email to a parent stating that "not everyone believes the Holocaust happened."

Latson's comment sparked outrage across the nation after the parent shared her email exchanges with the principal in early July. But this week, Jonathan Larkins, the CEO and owner of Busy Body Fitness Centers & Upload Fitness in Boca Raton, offered Latson an all-expenses-paid trip to the site of one of the deadliest World War II-era concentration camps for a learning experience Larkins hoped would give Latson a better understanding of the tragedies of the Holocaust.

"It's important that I take a stand, so we elevate the topic in the minds of people, not just in this country, every county," Larkins told the Sun-Sentinel on Sunday. "When people start talking about it, only then can we make change for the better."

"The best way to advance thinking is education, and in this case, the teacher could use a lesson in history to fully understand the atrocities that took place. My hope is that William Latson embraces my offer as an opportunity to become an ambassador for forward thinking and to be a role model for how Holocaust education is presented to our youth both in Palm Beach County and the country at large," he continued.

Although the exact number of people sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust is unclear, historians estimated more than 1.1 million people were killed by Nazis soldiers from 1940 through 1945. More than 6 million people were murdered during the Holocaust.

Florida Principal Offered Trip to Auschwitz After He Denied Holocaust
The notorious "Work Makes One Free" ("Arbeit Macht Frei") inscription stands at the entrance to the Auschwitz I memorial concentration camp site on February 15, 2019, in Oswiecim, Poland. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Latson and Spanish River Community High were thrust into the national spotlight earlier this month over an email exchange the principal had with the parent of one of his students more than a year earlier.

In April 2018, a parent reached out to Latson to inquire about what sort of Holocaust education was being taught in the school. In a chain of emails, which were first published by the Palm Beach Post, Latson noted that there would be a "variety of activities" to teach students the history of the Holocaust but said the curriculum would "not be forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs."

When the parent asked the principal to clarify his comment he replied: "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened. And you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently."

"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," Latson told the parent in his email. "I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly. I do the same with information about slavery, I don't take a position but allow for the information to be presented."

Florida law has required schools teach Holocaust education through "books and materials" that meet "the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy" since legislature was passed in 1994.

While Latson was ousted from his position at the high school, his future with the school district is expected to be determined by the Palm Beach County School Board by a vote in the upcoming weeks.

Former Florida Principal Offered a Trip to Auschwitz After Telling a Parent 'Not Everyone Believes the Holocaust Happened' | U.S.