Toby Price, the former vice-principal at Gary Road Elementary School in Byram, told CNN he decided to read the book on March 2 when another principal failed to attend their Zoom read-aloud mass. voice. Price improvised, grabbed the book from his desk, and started reading.
“I didn’t give it much thought. I just grabbed a book I had nearby that I knew I liked, I thought the kids would like and read it,” Price said.
Turns out he was right. The kids loved the book, he told CNN.
“They kept coming up to me and telling me how funny they thought it was,” Price said.
Price was then called to the superintendent’s office, where everything became “a blur”. He was forced to resign or be fired immediately.
He said he chose not to quit because he thought quitting was “almost like saying they were right and you were wrong”.
A March 3 termination letter signed by Hinds County School District Superintendent Delesicia Martin described violations of Mississippi’s educator code of ethics and standards of conduct. Price did not demonstrate “professional standards” or maintain an environment free of “unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement,” according to the letter.
Price read phrases like “farting” or “blow his butt off and split it in half” and showed illustrations of the character’s bare buttocks, all of which contributed to the reason for his firing, as stated in the letter.
PEN America, a human rights literature and free speech organization, said the ruling was “a threat to the freedom to read, learn and teach.”
“By positioning the act of reading a book as an ethics violation, the district implies that any educator could be fired in similar circumstances, whenever an anonymous source believes a book read to students is ‘inappropriate’. “for any reason,” PEN America said in a response to the termination letter.
Price argued that “Research shows that if you can get kids interested in reading at a young age, they’re more likely to become lifelong readers. Kids need fun, fun books to help them develop.” hook and engage them in reading. It was a fun, silly book, nothing more.”
Price and his attorney Joel Dillard will attend a public hearing with the school division on March 21 regarding the charges against him.
Byram is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Jackson.