A Florida teacher who was accused of having White students in his classroom bow to Black students is on leave.
Ethan Hooper, a middle school teacher in Orlando, posted the videos to his personal social media which went viral after being shared by the popular right-wing account Libs of TikTok.
One of the videos Hooper posted showed White students acting like servants to Black students in the class in honor of Black History Month. White students were shown in the video fanning and feeding Black students.
“It was in good fun. There was no political agenda behind it,” the teacher said. He said the video was being “maliciously used.”
“I am deeply apologetic toward the students and parents of those involved. I am also sorry to the students who weren’t involved,” Hooper said. “I want to be an example for them. If this does not match up with what they viewed [of me], I am truly sorry. My heart is for my students and the parents, first and foremost.”
The Orange County Public School District issued a statement saying that it 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.”
Some students and parents spoke out in favor of Hooper, saying that they wanted to participate in the video.
“We all agreed to it,” said a student in Hooper’s class. “He didn’t really do anything wrong.”
The fact that the students really devised the content specifically means that it’s something that matters to them. And to say that they were used as pawns is false,” a mom in the district said, according to WESH.
She continued, “The other example my daughter showed me was for Black History Month. They put some Black students on the chairs, and then the White students were fanning them and making them comfortable. You know, it’s awesome, it’s beautiful, it’s celebratory, and I loved it.”
However, overall the district administration turned on Hooper.
“I am appalled at the behavior and judgment of the teacher who posted the inappropriate videos,” Superintendent Maria Vazquez said in a statement. “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.”