Shane Murnan, known as Shantel Mandalay in his drag shows, was named principal of John Glenn Elementary School in June. Three months later, V1SUT revealed that Murnan had been arrested for possession of drugs and child pornography in 2001.
However, for the school district, this did not appear to be new information. Western Heights Public Schools acknowledged in announcing the appointment that it was aware "of previous charges that were dismissed more than 20 years ago."
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. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a Masters of Education in Educational Administration, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration. We welcome Dr. Murnan to Western Heights, and we are very excited about his vision for John Glenn and the community.
The school defended the decision by saying it had followed standard hiring practices and highlighted his "outstanding reputation," according to Christian media outlet Fism TV.
When he was arrested, Murnan was 30 years old and working as a teacher at Will Rogers Elementary School. Police arrested him after recovering deleted images from his computer of minors performing sexual acts, according to a report on the case by The Oklahoman.
An early ruling in Murnan's favor was reversed by a county appeals court, which ruled that the photographs were sufficient to prosecute him. The judge in charge of the decision, Dave Allen, concluded that "it is clear from a review of the pictures that they do represent child pornography."
According to The Oklahoman, the court again ruled in Murnan's favor a year later, as the prosecution could not prove that he had actually possessed the images because they had been deleted. It could not be proven, the judge conceded, whether he had opened the file. The defense lawyer argued that Murnan received the pornographic content by mistake and deleted it immediately.
V1SUT also reported that, in 2020, the state entered a new "Criminal Probable Cause Initial Filing" against Murnan, but it was unknown what exactly he was being investigated for. At the time, he was serving as the assistant principal at Prairie Queen Elementary School.
NEW: @RyanWaltersSupt says he is “looking into all accusations” against Western Heights Principal Shane Murnan.
Social media posts about Murnan mention a child porn arrest.
— Andy Weber (@AndyWKOCO) August 31, 2023
Meet Shane Murnan- elementary principal at @wh_isd.
Shane is a drag queen who performs for children and reads books about gender to kids while dressed in drag.
Shane was also previously arrested on child porn charges.
Would you want this person in charge of your kid’s school? pic.twitter.com/yNuZyt3HRK
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) August 30, 2023
A (not so) double life
"By day, she's an Assistant Principal, molding young minds, but by night, she's the life of the party," reads a post announcing Murnan's participation in the 2023 Pride Benefit Gala.
The post also highlights Murnan's role as host for "Thirsty Thursday" and "Sunday Night Karaoke" at The Boom, which is "Oklahoma City's premeiere [sic.] live entertainment venue, featuring dinner theatre, live music, and live comedy shows."
The post also highlights Murnan's "impressive array of titles, including Miss Gay Oklahoma America and Miss Gay Oklahoma USofA."
V1SUT further reported that Murnan "regularly and publicly links his role as educator with Shantel Mandalay" and that he "operates [an] organization to promote Drag Queen Story Hours."
Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters announced that the state Department of Education had opened an investigation after learning of the allegations.
Reports out of Western Heights are disturbing. I share parents' concern and outrage, and will always defend Oklahoma values pic.twitter.com/RvVI3KPAhy
— Superintendent Ryan Walters (@RyanWaltersSupt) August 31, 2023
Walters later uploaded a video to his Twitter account saying it was "completely unacceptable" for a drag performer to run an elementary school and urging educational institutions to improve their recruiting processes so that their employees "match Oklahoma values."
Drag queens in schools do not = Oklahoma values. pic.twitter.com/XQzpNIUnLw
— Superintendent Ryan Walters (@RyanWaltersSupt) September 1, 2023