An assistant principal at an elementary school in Mississippi has been fired after reading a book to a second-grade class over Zoom. The school administration took issue with the book title, calling it inappropriate. The book, however, is rated appropriate for kids from the 1st to 6th grade.
According to NBC News, Toby Price worked at Gary Road Elementary School in Byram, a suburb in Jackson, Mississippi. Recently, Toby was asked to set up a Zoom class for the kids in second grade for his principal who would be leading the class.
When the principal didn’t show up to the Zoom class, which had been the plan, Toby was asked to take lead and read the kids a book.
“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,” Toby explained. “One of my favorites. I read it: I Need a New Butt! It’s hilarious.”
The book is written by Dawn McMillan and was, first released in 2014, but it’s since sparked a whole series of books full of sequels and fun spin-offs. Once again, the publisher lists this book as being the best for kids in grades one through five, or kids between the ages of six through ten, making the book well age-appropriate. The book has been well-loved since its publication. A quick search on Amazon shows the book has been rated 17,289 times and holds a 4.7 out of 5 review rating.
“I never had an issue with it,” Toby said of the book, who has read it to other students before. “It’s just a fun, silly book.” The story is hilarious, and very silly – and harmless.
“Will he choose an armor-plated butt? A rocket butt? A robot butt?” the book description reads. “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!”
However, a few minutes after Toby dismissed the kids from their Zoom meeting, he was called to the principal’s office. He was told that parents might complain about the book he had read, and Toby was instructed to report to the district office before being sent home on administration leave.
The school administrators told Toby that the book was inappropriate because it had a cartoon image of a kid’s butt and contained words like “fart” and “butt.” To Toby’s knowledge at the time, there weren’t any complaints from parents – the school administration was just worried there might be.
Toby was fired under the grounds that he showed “a lack of professionalism and impaired judgment” in choosing the book to read.
The fired assistant principal says he planning to appeal his termination. But also shared that he strongly believes this book is fine for kids.
“If I had to do it all over again, I’d still share the silly, funny books with the kids, because they need them,” Toby said. “The world’s a serious, harsh, dark place, and everybody needs a little bit of silly and a little bit of laughs every now and then,” he said. “They just need that reminder that it’s not all bad all the time.”