Mississippi school board upholds layoff for ‘New Butt’ book

A Mississippi educator who was fired for reading a children’s book called “I need a new ass!” sophomores says he will go to court to try to get his job back.

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

Price was initially suspended with pay, but was later fired after reading the book on Zoom. The book, by Dawn McMillan, chronicles a child’s journey to find a new behind. It is illustrated with cartoons that show the character considering an armored stock, a rocket stock, and a robot stock.

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

Price, an educator for two decades, called the book “dumb” and said, “The kids are in on the joke as they read it.”

The teachers have been under nationwide heightened surveillance — especially in Republican-led states — as defenders push book challenges and bans in an attempt to restrict how students learn certain subjects, particularly around racism, sexuality and gender.

Following his appeal hearing, the school board met on April 28 and heard from Price, his attorneys and school district officials. Council members then convened in closed session and, with two of the five 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 in his or her care,” the board wrote. “At a minimum, it conditions children to believe that all kinds of actions are okay – they’re just funny. However, these activities are dangerous for children.

The board said “I need a new ass!” showed inappropriate activity such as an adult painting on a child’s exposed buttocks, 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 artwork, including “Captain Underpants”.

Price posted a short poem on Twitter referring to the Superintendent’s decision, saying, “Price’s work in education has spanned nearly twenty years / It only took one silly book to end his career. / Giving this kind of power to one person / Will only aggravate education and teaching.

Then he posted an update: “Two voted yes. One voted no. Two said nothing. Price therefore had to leave.

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