The principal of operations at Eastside High School has been placed on leave over the Fetty Wap music video filmed inside the Park Avenue high school, said state-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans on Wednesday night.
Zatiti Moody, the principal, has been placed on paid leave, said Evans, while the district investigates. He said the district will hire an independent investigator to determine whether school policies were followed in granting Wap permission to shoot his new music video “Wake Up” at the high school the rapper attended in his youth.
The video, which shows a woman smoking marijuana in a classroom, two men dice throwing in the hallway, and several people drinking in a classroom, has garnered widespread condemnation in the city.
“For someone to allow a video of this nature to be shot at Eastside High School is an absolute disgrace,” said Valerie Freeman, a resident.
“You got to tighten your grip as to what’s allowed at these schools,” Freeman told the superintendent.
School board members also condemned the filming of the video inside the school building. Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges said the “imagery” in the video is “disturbing.”
“It’s an embarrassment,” added board member Kenneth Simmons.
“I don’t think that video should have been shot at an educational facility,” said board member Oshin Castillo. “What message are we sending?”
The video appears to encourage young people to do drugs, said board members.
“Let’s get Wiz Khalifa high,” sings Wap in the music video referring to smoking marijuana. “I told moms I ain’t trippin’ over school cause I made it.”
“It wasn’t a great story line for our kids,” said board member Lilisa Mimms.
Although he disagreed with the content of the video, Hodges argued for free speech. “We have a responsibility to entertain speech we do not like,” he said. He said the video should have included a disclaimer that stated the district does not condone or promote the behavior depicted in the music video.
“I don’t think the discussion is about free speech,” said board member Errol Kerr. “We have to protect our school buildings. This is just not right. It sickens me to my stomach.”
Kerr wondered how the rapper gained access to the school building.
“Somebody should be held responsible,” said board member Nakima Redmon. The superintendent suggested the investigation will determine who should be held responsible for allowing the rapper to film inside the high school.
“Paterson is more than Fetty Wap, alcoholism, and drug use,” said Castillo. She said even her teenage brother wondered why a video that encourage drug use and discourages education would be allowed to be filmed at a high school.