Florida principal refused to call the Holocaust a ‘historical event,’ appealed termination and was fired again – USA TODAY

Posted By on November 11, 2020

Fired Spanish River High Principal William Latson listens Tuesday as Dr. Donald E. Fennoy II, superintendent of the Palm Beach County School District, testifies during an administrative court hearing in which Latson is try to get his job back.(Photo: PROVIDED PHOTO)

WEST PALM BEACH,Fla. A former principal whose Holocaust remarks outraged people around the country has been fired for a second time.

Palm Beach County School Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to terminate former Spanish River High Principal William Latson, little more than a year after their first vote to fire him.

The veteran administrator was oustedOctober 2019 aftertelling a parenthe "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 appealed and an administrative law judge sided with him, concluding in August that Latsons action did not merit termination.

But board members on Tuesday rejected the judges recommendation, adopting afinal orderin the case that maintains Latsons actions did merit termination.

Contrary to the [judges] conclusions, Dr. Latson did commit misconduct in office, incompetency, and gross insubordination, providing just cause for his suspension and termination, the final order stated.

Oct. 27: Former principal embroiled in Holocaust controversy apologizes

Oct. 2019: Principal fired after refusing to call the Holocaust a 'factual, historical event'

The judge's decision was based, in part, on an assumption that the school district hada "progressive discipline" policy for principals, meaning most initial incidents of misconduct are punished lightly,and subsequent violations punished more harshly.

But while the district has a progressive discipline policy for teachers and other unionized workers, board members said the policy does not apply to principals.

"There is also no mandatory progressive discipline policy requiring any heightened showing for termination to be appropriate," the board's final order stated.

The vote concludes a chaotic month in which board members struggled to navigate widespread outrage over Latson's actions and the legal complexities of what was their first effort to fire a principal in years.

But it may not be the end of the legal battle over his fate. Board members have acknowledged Latson is likely to appeal in state court. His attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

When the administrative law judge ruled the board had gone too far in firing him, a split school board reluctantly voted Oct. 7 to reinstate him.

That decision drew a newoutpouring of outrage from around the nation. Embarrassed and chastened, board members quickly moved to reconsider.

Last week, they unanimously voted to rescind their acceptance of the judge's recommendation to rehireLatson.

Then, on Tuesday, board members formally adopted thenew "final order," formally terminateLatson once more.

Follow Andrew Marra on Twitter:@AMarranara


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