A Montreal-area teacher said he has been suspended from his job because of a rap video he made.
Chad Ashe, 34, said he thinks the suspension is not only “outrageous,” but possibly racially motivated.
“I doubt that I would be going through these problems if I looked like Justin Bieber,” Ashe told Global News in an interview on Sunday.
He says showing students part of a video for his song Wahala got him suspended for a minimum of 10 days by the New Frontiers School Board south of Montreal.
“I’ve built my career carefully for these last five years. To tarnish that with something so frivolous is absolutely outrageous,” he said.
Ashe explained he has a go-to “ice breaker” for his students.
“I ask my students to give me 10 things I should know about them, and that gives me a bunch of cues like how good they can speak, how nervous they are around me,” Ashe said.
He claimed a class asked to know things about him too, so he told his students that he’s a recording artist.
“Obviously, they wanted to see what I do. So I showed them 30 to 40 seconds of it,” Ashe recounted.
The video for Wahala shows Ashe and his real-life girlfriend, Kim Landerman, by the pool in her mother’s backyard.
They’re in bathing suits frolicking around the pool, drinking wine and making food.
“The song is about not having problems and just enjoying love and enjoying your significant other and having fun doing it. It’s as simple as that, and a lot of my music has to do with that,” he said. Ashe describes his songs as “feel-good music.”
Not long after he showed part of the clip to a group of 13- and 14-year-olds, he said he heard from the principal of Howard S. Billings Region. A parent had complained.
“The principal said I was suspended because I was in a bathing suit with my girlfriend in my music video,” Ashe claimed. “How else are you supposed to be dressed by a pool? How many couples that are in love have a drink by the pool?”
He said he was told the suspension would last a minimum of 10 days while an investigation unfolds.
“It could have been the same situation with an acoustic guitar and I would have been white, I really don’t think I’d be in this position. I think because of the tattoos, because of how I dress, because of the jewelry, because of the dreads, because of the high top, because of the fade — it causes a problem.”
The couple argues teens regularly see things far more explicit on TV and online.
“I feel upset that he’s going through this because his intentions are so pure. They’re in the right place for the kids,” said Landerman, his girlfriend.
The school board’s executive director was not available for an interview Sunday, but sent a statement to Global News.
“The New Frontiers School Board cannot share any details regarding Mr. Ashe’s current situation, as everything is still under review,” said New Frontiers School Board executive director Rob Buttars.
“We can confirm, however, that it is concerns expressed by parents — concerns that we take very seriously — that are at the root of the situation in which we now find ourselves with Mr. Ashe. … We are working with Mr. Ashe to address those concerns and to resolve the situation in the best interests of all parties involved.”
Ashe is hoping that the situation can be cleared up, and he can get his job back.