"It was Read Across America week, and the second graders in the Hinds County School District in Mississippi were waiting for an administrator to read to them.The administrator had forgotten it was her turn, said Toby Price, the assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary School in Hinds County, who was in his office at the time. He decided to fill in.
Mr. Price, 46, quickly grabbed a book — “I Need a New Butt!” by Dawn McMillan, one of his children’s favorites — and began reading it to the roughly 240 second graders over Zoom.Later that day, on March 2, the district superintendent, Delesicia Martin, called him into her office and told him he was on administrative leave, Mr. Price said. He was fired two days later, accused of violating the standards of conduct section of the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics.In a letter to Mr. Price, the superintendent called the book “inappropriate.” She particularly took issue with the references to farting in the story ...
... and how “the book described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof).”..
“I expected a write up,” said Mr. Price, who had worked for the district for three years. “I did not expect to get terminated. I cried the entire way home.”..“My granddaughter heard him read the book and thought it was hilarious and not at all inappropriate!” the grandmother wrote.Mr. Price said that was the reaction from students after he read the book. He recalled going into the hallway and being approached by students who thanked him for his pick.“They loved it,” he said. “They all stopped me and said, ‘Mr. Price, that book was really good.’”
“We have a lot of reluctant readers,” he said. “I am a firm believer that reluctant readers need the silly, funny books to hook them in.”..He said he wanted only his job back so he could support his three children. His two eldest children — a daughter, 19, and a son, 18 — have severe autism.“I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I need to work.”"
“First and foremost, 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,” Martin said. “These statements and pictures are inappropriate for an educator to read and display to second graders, especially without advance notice to the teachers of the students.”