An assistant principal in the Denton Independent School District under fire after authoring a children's book that some say is politically charged was reassigned to a new position Tuesday.
Eric Hauser, who worked at Rodriguez Middle School, was reassigned over the controversy his book, "The Adventures of Pepe and Pede," has caused. He issued a statement to staff and the media Tuesday; the district said he'd be assigned to a yet-to-be-determined new role that does not involve being an administrator or educator.
"I feel that it is best not to be the Assistant Principal at Rodriguez Middle School," Hauser wrote in his statement. "The students, the community, and the teachers are too important to me to subject them to all the negativity and disapproval resulting from this book."
Hauser's book is under fire because it uses the character Pepe the Frog and contains allusions to the conservative movement.
Pepe's origin began innocently enough, as a popular Internet meme created in 2008. But in 2015 the character began to be appropriated as a mascot of the white nationalist alt-right movement. Recently, the Anti-Defamation League flagged it for some more offensive use, which Hauser told NBC 5 last week he knew nothing about.
"To me, that's not the symbol that I'm coming from," Hauser previously said. "I'm using Pepe just as a light-hearted way of explaining some conservative values. Some of the central themes are honesty, teamwork and friendship."
Hauser's full statement to school staff can be read below:
My Fellow Colleagues,
Due to the controversy surrounding the book I have published, I feel that it is best not to be the Assistant Principal at Rodriguez Middle School. The students, the community, and the teachers are too important to me to subject them to all the negativity and disapproval resulting from this book. I offer you my deepest apologies if this has affected you or your families in any negative way and I cannot in good faith let this controversy detract you or the school from the mission at hand. I appreciate the sacrifices you have made and will continue to make serving the community of Rodriguez. Thank you.
Mario Zavala Jr., director of communications for the Denton ISD, released the following statement Friday:
“We are aware of Mr. Hauser's publication. The book was written on his own time, using his own resources and is not affiliated with our curriculum or instruction. Mr. Hauser's book and its contents belong to him and are not tied to our district.”
NBC 5's Alice Barr contributed to this report.