The Western Heights Public School District in Oklahoma is standing by its choice to employ a drag queen who has been previously arrested on child porn charges.
According to a report first published by Substack V1sut, 52-year-old Dr. Shane Brent Murnan has been appointed as the principal of John Glenn Elementary School. Murnan expressed joy over joining a "new district and new respect" in a Facebook post, which the report cited. It appears that Murnan's personal Facebook page has subsequently been removed.
In 2001, police seized Murnan's personal electronics due to suspicions of possession of child pornography.
Two weeks following the seizure of his personal devices, Murnan, who was at the time a fifth-grade instructor at Will Rogers Elementary School in Stillwater, Oklahoma, was taken into custody. Associate Judge Dave Allen of the Appeals Court commented that it was “clear from a review of the pictures that they do represent child pornography,” The Oklahoman reported at the time.
In August 2002, District Judge Donald L. Worthington of Payne County dropped the charges against Murnan. Murnan's legal team argued that he had acquired the images 'accidentally' and that the age of those in the videos couldn't be proven.
According to a report from The Oklahoman, Murnan did lose his teaching position at the time. After fulfilling probation requirements for a drug-related offense in October 2003, Murnan's record was cleared and the charges were dropped, as per information from the Oklahoma State Courts Network.
In 2007, Murnan began teaching in a rural school district in Oklahoma and transitioned to an elementary school role in the Oklahoma City Public Schools in 2016. He served as an assistant vice principal between 2020 and 2022, prior to his appointment as a principal.
In a letter forwarded to the Daily Caller, Brayden Savage, superintendent of Western Heights Public Schools, told parents that he was "writing to address a concern you may read about on social media," and that "We understand the situation may cause concerns and questions among parents, staff, and community members.”
Savage stated that the district adhered to “usual hiring practices” when evaluating Murnan, which included checking references and carrying out a felony criminal background check.
In a post on social media that welcomed Murnan to the institution, the district recognized the past charges that had been leveled against their current principal.
“This evening, the Board of Education approved the hiring of Dr. Shane Murnan for the Head Principal position at John Glenn Elementary. Recently, the district has been made aware of previous charges that were dismissed more than 20 years ago. Dr. Murnan has been serving the field of education for more than 25 years and has an outstanding reputation. He comes highly recommended from previous supervisors, colleagues, and educators.”
“Recently, information began circulating about Dr. Murnan and the charges he faced more than 20 years ago for an alleged crime involving child pornography,” the letter to parents stated.
“According to news reports at the time, those charges were dismissed by the court, and the record of the charges has been expunged. Since that time, Dr. Murnan has continued to be certified as an elementary school teacher and principal, including having his certificate renewed in April of 2023 and signed by State Superintendent Ryan Walters. The State Department of Education would have conducted another felony background check upon renewing his certification.”
The letter attempted to reassure parents that the district's top priority was maintaining a “safe learning environment” and informed them that the matter was known to the district and being managed appropriately.