ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Orange County Schools yanked a teacher activist from his classroom after learning he used his students to make political statements on TikTok.
Ethan Hooper filmed his sixth-grade students acting out various skits, including one that showed white students bowing down to black classmates.
Another video mocked the Florida Department of Education’s prohibition of books containing pornography, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender fluidity.
After the videos racked up millions of views online, the school district placed Hooper on administrative leave.
“Orange County Public Schools will not tolerate the use of our children as political pawns by anyone, including a classroom teacher,” Orange County Schools said in a statement. “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.”
Hooper, who teaches Language Arts at Howard Middle School, denied any political motivation and accused those who shared it as having “malicious” intent. He apologized to his students and their parents, according to WESH.
“I am deeply apologetic toward the students and parents of those involved. I am also sorry to the students who weren't involved," Hooper told the station. “It was all in good fun.”
In a statement, District Superintendent Maria Vazquez blasted Hooper, saying: “I am appalled at the behavior and judgment of the teacher who posted the inappropriate videos. 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.”