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Tipsheet

Florida Teacher Suspended for Using Students As ‘Political Props’

Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A sixth grade teacher in Florida was put on leave after parents complained about videos he shared on the social media platform TikTok that show him using students as “political props.”

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Ethan Hooper, who teaches at Howard Middle School in Orlando, shared a video that showed white students fanning, feeding, and bowing down to black students to commemorate Black History Month, the New York Post reported.

In a separate video, Hooper can reportedly be seen walking around the room snatching books from students and “announcing that anything related to race and black history is prohibited.” This video, along with several others, seemingly reference Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (FL) “Stop WOKE Act” that prohibits school books that cover topics like Critical Race Theory (CRT).

“If one of the teachers was using my kid for political gain, that would upset me,” Howard Middle School dad CJ Johnson told Click Orlando. “What if I don’t believe in that, and, you know, that’s not what I’m teaching my kid.”

Hooper told WESH 2 that he is “sorry” and that “there was no political agenda behind it.” 

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Some students came out in Hooper’s defense, saying “we all agreed to it” and “he didn’t really do anything wrong.” 

In a statement to the outlet, Orange County Public Schools said: "Orange County Public Schools will not tolerate the use of our children as political pawns by anyone, including a classroom teacher. Any employee who creates videos or other content with students in an effort to exploit them for political purposes will be immediately removed from the classroom, placed on administrative leave, and swift action will be taken to terminate employment."

The Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Maria Vazquez went further and said she was “appalled” by the videos using children as “political props,” and described them as “inappropriate.” 

“This is not free speech — it is the exploitation of our students for political purposes and it will not be tolerated in our school district,” Vazquez said. 

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