Fla. education chief moves to strip license from principal in Holocaust furor

Florida’s education commissioner inserted himself into the roiling controversy over the reinstatement of a Palm Beach County principal who declined to call the Holocaust a fact, directing his administration to strip the principal’s educator certificate.



a man standing in front of a table: 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.


© ALLEN EYESTONE/palmbeachpost.com
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.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Friday that former Spanish River High School Principal William Latson “took advantage of his position of trust” and that state officials had a duty to remove the certificate that authorizes him to educate public school students.

Latson, who sparked international controversy last year by telling a parent he couldn’t say the Holocaust was a historical fact, was reinstated last week by the county school board, prompting a new wave of public outrage.

More: School board will reconsider vote to rehire principal who refused to call Holocaust a fact

Educator certificates are generally required to teach or work as a principal in a Florida public school. Corcoran called for the “cancellation” of Latson’s certificate “effective immediately.”



Richard Corcoran wearing a suit and tie: Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks at Friday's meeting of the state Board of Education.


© Screenshot via The Florida Channel
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks at Friday’s meeting of the state Board of Education.

“As Commissioner of Education, I am charged with protecting the health, safety and welfare of Florida’s students, a responsibility I take very seriously,” Corcoran wrote in a letter to the chief of the state’s Bureau of Educator Certification.

“The safety of Florida students was recently jeopardized when it was reported that Mr. Latson, a principal in Palm Beach County, took advantage of his position of trust,” the letter stated. “I am committed to minimizing any potential threats to Florida students.”

More: Reinstated after Holocaust uproar, former principal remains unapologetic

Corcoran’s call to strip Latson’s certificate came the same day that the school board’s chairman called for board members to reconsider its 4-3 vote last week to reinstate Latson, putting in peril his new position in the district’s assessment department.

It was not immediately clear whether state education officials could immediately strip Latson’s license.

Normally, educators whose licenses are being considered for revocation have a chance first to appear before a state panel and respond to the allegations against them. Education department officials did not respond to a request for clarification Friday evening.

Even if Latson’s license were stripped, it might not affect his ability to work in the district.

District administrators have already said he will not be permitted to work on a school campus again, and his current administrative post in the district’s headquarters does not appear to require a state educator certificate.

Neither Latson nor his attorney responded to requests for comment Friday.

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This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Fla. education chief moves to strip license from principal in Holocaust furor

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