SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — A respected high school football coach has been terminated after his appearance in a hip-hop music video.
Otis Newell has coached football throughout Southern California for years, most recently for Simi Valley High School. Newell, who grew up in Watts, is beloved by student athletes and says he does what he can to mentor his students about drugs and staying off the streets.
While not coaching, Newell, whose wife is also a teacher in the district, says he works on his music. However, his most recent music video appears to show what looks like drugs being sold out of an ice cream truck.
"I just think this just went way too far, way too fast," Newell said. "It's a depiction of pretty much how I grew up, and there's no secret that in the city where I come from, drugs and gang violence were everyday parts of my life."
Newell says he received a letter from the school district, saying in part: "Please know the decision to terminate you as a coach with our district is strictly related to our desire to separate our district and our schools from any affiliation with negative images and illegal activity, whether real or fictitious."
Upon his firing by the district, a number of students took to social media to share their feelings, saying: "Thanks coach, miss you out there, man" and "Hope to have you back real soon."
Newell, meanwhile, says it is important to be able to discuss the subject with students.
"If nobody talks about it, and nobody attacks the subject, then the same things just keep happening," Newell said.
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