School leader fired for reading ‘New Butt’ book awaits fate

Mar 29, 2022, 4:37 PM | Updated: 5:02 pm

BYRAM, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi educator will have to wait to see if he will be rehired after he was fired for reading a children’s book called “I Need a New Butt!” to a group of second graders.

Toby Price is trying to regain his job as assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary in the Jackson suburb of Byram in Hinds County. His employment appeal hearing started last week and resumed Monday, lasting about five hours, WJTV-TV reported.

The Hinds County School Board’s decision on Price’s employment is expected in about two months.

Price was initially suspended with pay but later fired after reading the book to young students over Zoom. The book, by Dawn McMillan, chronicles a child’s journey to find a new backside. It is illustrated with cartoons that show the character considering an armor-plated butt, a rocket butt and a robot butt.

In a statement after the hearing, Superintendent Delesicia Martin called the book “inappropriate.”

“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.”

Teachers have been under increased scrutiny nationwide as advocates have pushed book challenges and bans in an attempt to restrict how students are taught certain subjects, particularly around racism, sexuality and gender.

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

Price described the book as “silly” and one that children could enjoy, the Clarion Ledger reported.

“The kids are in on the joke as they read it,” Price said.

However, if he were asked beforehand not to read it, Price said he would have followed that request.

Martin said educators must be extremely careful in what they say and do “especially in the presence of our impressionable children.”

“Yet, Mr. Price saw nothing wrong with reading a book that trivialized and made light of a character pulling its pants down, having others paint its nude buttocks and depicting an adult’s nude buttocks,” she said.

Elizabeth Maron, attorney for the school administration, asked whether Price was OK with reading books with students showing their private parts and encouraging students to copy that behavior or use language about butts or farts. He said no.

Price said his teaching and administrative style incorporates play and silliness, which are ways to engage students in learning. He has done other things, like rap in a series of videos to teach students vocabulary, he said.

This isn’t the first time Price has read silly books. He read the sequel to “I Need a New Butt!” in May 2020 for a virtual reading that was posted on the school’s Facebook page.

Martin noted that Price, in a March 1 statement, apologized for “poor judgment” in reading the book. But since then, Price has told reporters he believed in the appropriateness of the book, Martin said.

Price also has said he has never been disciplined, “not even for being late.” But, Martin said, during the hearing a prior employer said Price was not going to be offered a contract to return to Rankin County School District as a principal or in any other position and that he had resigned to avoid non-renewal of his contract.

Price said his decision to move to Hinds County schools was for his children. Joel Dillard, Price’s attorney, argued a non-renewal of contract doesn’t necessarily mean bad behavior by the educator.

Price has been an educator for two decades. He held the post at Gary Road Elementary for three years.

Martin said parents, not schools, should make decisions about when or how to talk to children about body parts or bodily functions.

“Educators who do not understand the significance of what they say and do in the presence of young, impressionable children, and who are not willing to take responsibility for their actions, cannot be a part of the education team that is responsible for educating our young children,” Martin said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

5 days ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

6 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

11 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

12 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

14 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

18 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

School leader fired for reading ‘New Butt’ book awaits fate