Mississippi school board maintains shots due to ‘New Butt’ book

BYRAM, Miss. >> A Mississippi teacher who was fired for reading a children’s book called “I Need a New Butt!” to second graders say he will go to court to try to get his job back.

Toby Price told Clarion Ledger on Monday that he received a 12-page order showing that the Hinds County School Board had voted 2-1 in late April to uphold the superintendent’s decision to fire him in March. He was assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary in the Jackson suburb of Byram.

Price was initially suspended on pay, but later fired after reading the book over Zoom. The book, by Dawn McMillan, tells of a child’s journey to find a new back cover. It is illustrated with cartoons showing the character contemplating an armored butt, a rocket butt and a robotic butt.

While Price was appealing, Superintendent Delesicia Martin called the book “inappropriate” because it showed “private areas of the body.”

Price, who has been a teacher for two decades, described the book as “silly” and said, “The kids are on the joke while reading it.”

Teachers have been under increased control across the country – especially in Republican-led states – as advocates push book challenges and bans in an attempt to restrict how students are taught certain subjects, particularly racism, sexuality and gender.

After his appeal hearing, the school board met on April 28 and heard from Price, his lawyers and school district officials. Board members then went to a closed session and with two of the five members abstaining, voted to uphold his dismissal.

“He does not see the problems associated with a school administrator desensitizing both adult nudity and child nudity by exposing it to children under his care,” the board wrote. “It requires at least children to believe that all kinds of actions are not something to worry about – they are just fun. But these activities are dangerous for children.”

The board said “I need a new ass!” showed inappropriate activities such as an adult painting on a child’s bare bottom, an activity that would require a report to the state Department of Human Services for child abuse or neglect, the board wrote.

Price’s attorney listed other books in the school library that have similar themes or illustrations, including “Captain Underpants.”

Price posted a short poem on Twitter referring to the principal’s decision, saying: “Price’s work on education lasted almost twenty years / All it took was a stupid book to end his career./ To give that kind of power to a single person / will only make education and training worse. ”

Then he sent an update: “Two voted yes. One voted no. Two said nothing. So Price had to leave.”

Leave a Comment