Fahrenheit 451: Kids' Lit Edition

An Assistant Principal In Mississippi Got Fired For Reading ‘I Need A New Butt!’ To Students

The second graders thought the book was ‘hilarious.’ The school district’s superintendent thought it showed an educator’s ‘impaired judgement.’

Originally Published: 
Assistant Principal Toby Price holding the book that he got fired for reading to second graders, 'I ...
WJTV 12 News / YouTube

Assistant Principal Toby Price got fired after he stepped in for an absent guest reader and read the children’s book I Need A New Butt! to children. On March 2, Price texted his boss when the guest reader failed to show up on Zoom and was told to read to the second grade class.

"I text my boss, she said, 'Well, go ahead and read.' I wasn't planning on reading, but I went ahead and grabbed one of my books that I had nearby. One of my favorites. I read it: I Need a New Butt! It's hilarious," he told CBS. The career educator had read the book at his previous school without any issues.

"I never had an issue with it," he said. "It's just a fun, silly book,” Price added. The book, written by Dawn McMillan and illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, chronicles a boy’s quest to find a new butt after he realizes his has a crack in it.

The publisher’s description of the culprit book very much confirms that this is a book created for young children, like, you know, second graders or any other kid that giggles at the mention of a fart.

“A young boy suddenly notices a big problem — his butt has a huge crack! So he sets off to find a new one. Will he choose an armor-plated butt? A rocket butt? A robot butt? Find out in this quirky tale of a tail, which features hilarious rhymes and delightful illustrations. Children and parents will love this book — no ifs, ands, or butts about it!”

An hour after Price read the well-received book to the kids, he was called to the principal’s office and put on administrative leave. On March 4, he was fired.

According to the termination letter from Hinds County School District Superintendent Delesicia Martin, Price was sacked because he “failed to demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards” and “needlessly expose[d] students to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.”

Parents, former students, and community members have contested Price’s termination. Price is actively fighting to overturn the district’s decision, and he has started a GoFundMe to pay a lawyer and support his family. “I am just looking for some help to pay bills while I look for another job. I have two kids with autism and another BPD. Thank you for helping,” he wrote in the fundraiser description.

The saga is just the latest in a series of book bannings, though most other “controversial” books are those that attempt to help kids grapple with the complexities of systemic racism or sexual orientation.

“Teachers already have so much else to worry about when they come into a building: One, getting fired over test scores; two, is someone going to come in and shoot up the building? Or am I going to catch covid?” Price said to Washington Post.

We really need to start advocating for teachers a lot more.

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