Mississippi school district upholds teacher’s firing for reading I Need a New Butt! to kids

The firing of a Mississippi assistant principal for reading pupils a humorous children’s book, I Need A New Butt!, has been upheld by his school district.

The book describes a boy who tries to find a new bottom after he sees a “crack” in his current bottom which makes him afraid it is broken.

In March, Toby Price, an assistant principal at Gary Road elementary school in Hinds county, Mississippi, was fired after reading the book to 240 children in a Zoom session.

Price was called to the district superintendent’s office and told that he was being placed on leave.

In a letter, the superintendent called the book “inappropriate” as it “described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof)”.

“The book contains statements and cartoon pictures regarding bodily anatomy, bodily functions and removing clothing to expose private areas of the body in various positions,” the district said.

Price was fired two days later, after being accused of violating the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics. He appealed. But on Monday his lawyers informed him the firing was upheld.

In a report reviewed by the Washington Post, the district said: “Mr Price’s contract should be terminated due to his incompetence, neglect of duty, and for good cause.”

According to the report, two board members voted yes, one voted no and two abstained.

An educator for 20 years, Price plans to pursue an appeal with the chancery courts of Mississippi. If that does not work, he plans to take his case to the state supreme court.

“If that’s where it ends up, that’s where it ends up,” he told the Post.

“We expected this part to happen but at the same time it doesn’t make it any easier,” he said, adding: “It still stings.”

A GoFundMe campaign launched to support Price and his family has raised more than $125,000. Price said he had turned down out-of-state job offers.

His firing ignited a firestorm of criticism from free speech advocates who argue it could have a devastating effect on students and educators, especially as conservative-fueled gag orders make their way across schools in the US.

In Hinds county, 21% of residents live below the poverty line.

“We have a lot of reluctant readers,” Price told the New York Times, adding: “I am a firm believer that reluctant readers need the silly, funny books to hook them in.”

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