Who is Shane Murnan? Oklahoma school principal drag queen backlash explained as dismissal calls intensify

Shane Murnan (Image via Shantel Mandalay/Facebook)
Shane Murnan (Image via Shantel Mandalay/Facebook)

Oklahoma elementary school has drawn backlash over hiring a principal, Shane Murnan, who was charged with possession of child pornography more than 20 years ago. However, Murnan was never convicted, as prosecutors were unable to prove that the images were that of minors.

In June, Murnan was hired by the Western Heights School District (WHSD) to be the principal of John Glenn Elementary School. The hiring created a upset after old reports surfaced stating that Murnan, who was known to dress in Drag and perform under the name “Shantel Mandalay,” was charged with possession of child pornography.

While Murnan was charged in 2002, a Payne County judge tossed the case after prosecutors failed to prove that he was in possession of child pornography. At the time, the Oklahoman reported that Murnan, a fifth-grade teacher in a different district, was exonerated after the case was dismissed.

The charges were also expunged from Murnan’s record, and he continued to work as an educator for 25 years. However, the recent hire has stirred up controversy, triggering backlash, and calls for Murnan's dismissal intensified this month.

Oklahoma school principal Shane Murnan's dismissal calls intensify

The Oklahoma John Glenn Elementary School is facing mounting calls to fire its drag queen principal, Shane Murnan, over decades-old child pornography charges that were dismissed after the prosecutor had failed to provide proof in the case.

Murnan is a Noble Oklahoma native, who graduated from Oklahoma State University with an undergraduate and Master's degree in Education Administration.

He then obtained a Doctorate in Education at the University of Phoenix and has worked as an educator for over two decades. According to a Christian post, he had once applied to become a church minister in 2014.

Shortly after he was hired as an elementary school principal, old charges surfaced, prompting parents to demand his resignation. Oklahoma head of public school education Shane Walters criticized the district officials for hiring Murnan this week and demanded that Murman be fired.

“I think that the left has absolutely an agenda for our kids, that they are at war with our kids in the classroom,” he told the outlet.
“What they are doing is injecting this ideology for an end goal here. Their end goal is to absolutely break down a child’s mind, break down the classroom, break down the family, and you see the results that have come from this.”

Despite the backlash, Western Heights school district officials, including Superintendent Brayden Savage, endorsed Shane Murnan’s position as a principal, stating that he had an exemplary record as an educator.

In a statement to Newsweek, Savage said:

"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.”

However, despite renewing Murnn's teaching certificate this year, State Superintendent Ryan Walters echoed the concerns voiced by parents and other state officials.

"Anything that might expose kids to inappropriate s*xual content at school is cause for serious concern to parents and is absolutely contrary to Oklahoma values," Walters said. "I will not allow rogue educators to endanger our kids."

Walters said that they'recurrently investigating charges related to Shane Murnan’s past and assured parents that they would take the necessary action depending on the outcome of their findings.

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Edited by Anushree Madappa