Latina mom fights Texas school over ‘seducing hooker’ game played with middle-school students
A formerly “woke” Latina mother has engaged in a nearly six-month battle with a Texas public school after a teacher played a game with students asking them to pose as “seducing hookers.”
On Sept 2, 2022, a teacher in a Social Emotional Learning class at KIPP Poder Academy, a public charter school, taught a role-playing game to students called Bear-Hunter-Hooker, an adult drinking game version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
The seventh-grade students were asked to strike a pose in front of class as a “seducing hooker” with one hand on their hip and another behind their ear, a hunter, pointing an imaginary gun and a scary bear with its paws up. The object of the game is to show control over the pose struck by their peer.
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Laura María Gruber revealed she was a ‘woke committed liberal’ until the incident that occurred on September 2, 2022 at KIPP: Poder Middle School. (Laura María Gruber)
For example, when the “hooker” and hunter pair are improvised, the “seducing hooker” wins over the hunter by “seducing” him. Students were allegedly organized to participate in order of least to most mature. Students in one of the classes were motivated to participate with the promise of candy.
Laura María Gruber, who is from Puerto Rico, alleges the school had prostitution and sexualized violence normalized to them because of this “team-building activity.” She also expressed concern over a student pointing an imaginary gun at another peer just three months after the Uvalde mass shooting.
Gruber claims the game was also played in a second classroom, but KIPP denies the allegation.
“I was a woke committed liberal until this game and school came into my life… seeing how KIPP exploited Latino children, and then how all the progressive politicians and organizations I sought support from didn’t give this issue a time of day…that really gave me an aha moment as to who’s really doing the work needed to stop the sexualization of kids,” Gruber said.
In grievance process paperwork, the school admitted the game occurred as described; however, four levels of KIPP administration, School Principal Stephanie Lee, Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Gray, Regional Superintendent Allen Smith and KIPP: Texas CEO Sehba Ali denied the game sexualized children.
KIPP Poder Academy did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
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A KIPP administrator responds to Laura María Gruber’s grievance complaint on the Bear, Hunter, Hooker game. (Laura María Gruber)
In the grievance process, Gruber asserted that the game violates KIPP’s own handbook rule on harassment and discrimination which prohibits discrimination and harassment, including, but not limited to the following behavior.
- Verbal conduct such as epithets derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations, or comments.Visual conduct such as derogatory and/or sexually-oriented emails, posters, photography, cartoons, drawings or gesturesSexual harassment which includes, but is not limited to, inappropriate conduct which has the purpose or effect of (1) creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment (20 unreasonable interfering with an employee’s work performance or a student’s
Gruber also claimed the game violated numerous aspects of the Texas Education Code’s Local School Health Advisory Council and Health Education Instruction, Section 28.004 g-j, the Texas Penal Code, The Texas Administrative Code of Educator Ethics and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
She also said the first level of grievance process lied to her and said that parents were contacted about the game. Instead, she says the letter sent in English and Spanish simply told parents counseling was available but did not get into specifics.
Parents did not know about the incident for five-and-a-half-months after Gruber had gone through all the levels of the grievance process and spoke with the KIPP Texas Public Schools Board.
On January 18, Gruber spoke with the board. When they learned of the incident, they were noticeably irate, but still gave the school an additional month to “get their story straight” and “give a more appropriate response.”
The board approved a motion to hire a child abuse nonprofit to come in and teach kids and address their trauma on February 6. They also solidified reforms to the board as well as the grievance process. The teacher in question was not fired but the school said she would be retrained.
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Chief Academic Officer Deedrah Harp tells Laura María Gruber that her Title IX Complaint had been dismissed. (Laura María Gruber)
In a February 16 letter to parents, sent in both English and Spanish and approved by the board, Lee said the incident did not meet the academy’s “bar of excellence” and admitted the game was played.
“This game was not part of any KIPP curriculum, and it was not appropriate for students. Any activities with actions or words like ‘hooker’ or ‘seduce’ should never have a place in our schools. While the intent was never to sexualize a child, I recognize that the impact may have caused students to feel uncomfortable or traumatized. That does not honor the respect we aim to teach our students at all times; in truth, it is degrading,” Lee said.
Lee claimed the incident was immediately addressed with the teacher who “deeply regretted” playing the game. She also said the school had scheduled an additional full-staff training for all teachers on appropriate and inappropriate behaviors with students.
“I apologize for not communicating sooner; after working with a concerned parent, we acknowledge that we should have shared the incident with you right away, address how we were handling this matter, and make resources available to parents for talking with their children – we promise to be more transparent in the future,” she added.
The letter further offered talking points to parents on how to engage in discussion with them about the incident.
But Gruber says the damage was already done and KIIP’s initial response cut parents out and blocked key adult voices to engage with their children while the incident festered in their mind for months.
She outlined several anecdotes about students who were in class for the game.
One female student who said she had already been violently sexually assaulted said she was “triggered” by the game.
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KIPP Poder Academy sends a letter to parents on February 16, 2023, nearly six months after the incident. (Laura María Gruber)
A parent, after hearing about the game, allegedly told their child not to cause drama in school and to respect teachers.
She said this response was indicative of many disadvantaged parents, who often try to stay off “authoritative radars” because of immigration issues and instead want to focus on coming out of poverty or navigating the legal system. She said this makes them a prime demographic to be taken advantage of and claimed KIPP intentionally exploits this fact.
KIPP is widely regarded as the face of progressive education in the United States and is known for providing equitable education to Black, Latino and LGBTQIA children.
“This system, whose claim to fame is offering disadvantaged and at-risk Black and Latino kids equity in education is especially predatory and this game belongs to all of us no matter what point of the moral or political spectrum that we live on,” Gruber said.
Gruber added it was important that her Latino community see a Latina standing against “wokeness.”
“I think it’s important that my Latino community see a Latina have an aha moment about wokeness and what it’s really doing to us—and that conservatives are genuinely the ones doing the work, and that our faith is inextricable from our language and parenting and that we have more in common with political conservatives that we do with woke movements trying to dilute our culture,” she said.
In a March 6 letter, KIPP Texas Public Schools Board of Directors Chair Gene Austin restated the apology given by the board at the hearing, noting that the lengthy process may have felt “drawn out” for her and the experience Gruber’s child had at the school.
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The KIPP Texas Public Schools Chair and Board of Directors Gene Austin apologizes to Laura María Gruber on March 6, 2023. (Laura María Gruber)
“After consideration of the arguments and the record, the Board acted to accept the remedies as presented by the Administration at the February 27, 2023 meeting; however, due to the Board’s finding that there was not a reasonable justification for the delay in the process, the Board requested that the Administration present to the Board, at the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting, a full review of its statewide incident response process,” Austin said.
Gruber also pushed her concern to other agencies. She claims that the Texas Education Agency d their investigation because they are “focusing more on inappropriate teacher-student relationships.”
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The Texas Attorney General allegedly declined the case. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education dismissed the cased after a thorough interview with Gruber. She claims they have not given her a reason for the dismissal.
Gruber hopes that her words push other parents to speak out. She initially put her daughter in the school to help her catch up on schoolwork. Her daughter had developed a spinal bone infection, a life-threatening illness that put her in the hospital for a month and a half. But, after just four weeks she pulled her daughter out of KIPP.
“I think they’re the ground zero for grooming,” Gruber said. “They just have zero boundaries.”