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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

District under fire after naming principal who had 2001 arrest for possession of child pornography

Parents at an Oklahoma City-area public school district are protesting after learning staff members have been hired despite prior convictions or serious allegations of sex crimes involving children.

In the Western Heights district in the Oklahoma City area, Shane Murnan has been hired as head principal at John Glenn Elementary. In 2001, Murnan was charged with possession of child pornography.

In 2001, the Tulsa World reported on Murnan’s arrest, writing that an affidavit for a search warrant revealed that four images “of adolescent white males performing sex acts with each other” had been recovered from Murnan’s computer by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The affidavit for a search warrant said police had been contacted by two individuals, including one who said Murnan made concerning comments about two 10-year-old boys. A second informant told police that Murnan had previously described receiving photos of a boy being sexually abused by an adult male.

At his trial, Murnan’s defense attorney argued the state had not proven that the pictures were of underage males and argued the pictures could have been computer generated. The defense also argued that since the images had been deleted on Murnan’s computer, he did not have possession of pornography.

A lengthy legal process ensued and Murnan was never convicted. The charges were eventually expunged.

Murnan also performs as a drag queen under the stage name Shantel Mandalay.

In June 2021, performing in drag, Murnan read children a story about a bear that identified as a rabbit as part of a program offered by the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System.

The Western Heights school district has hired not one but two drag queens.

Media in the Oklahoma City area has reported that an additional criminal probable cause filing targeted Murnan again in 2020, although few details have been made public.

In a June 12 Facebook post, officials at Western Heights downplayed Murnan’s past, stating, “Recently, the district has been made aware of previous charges that were dismissed more than 20 years ago.”

The post then described Murnan in glowing terms.

“Dr. Murnan has been serving the field of education for more than 25 years and has an outstanding reputation,” the Western Heights’ post stated. “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’s Facebook posted on Murnan’s hiring ended with the hashtag, “#SoaringToNewHeights.”

Media reports from that area of the sta1te has since reported that Western Heights has also hired Paul Caplan Stafford as a kindergarten classroom paraprofessional and that Stafford is also a drag queen performer who goes by the stage name Carmen Deveraux.

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