Sherman ISD superintendent removed from overseeing fine arts program, investigation underway
SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Sherman ISD Board of Trustees held a special meeting Friday afternoon to further discuss recent decisions made for the high school theater program.
On the agenda was the superintendent’s position and the possibility of hiring a special investigator to look into the theater controversy.
After discussing in a private meeting with attorneys, the board unanimously voted to remove the Sherman ISD Superintendent, Dr. Tyson Bennett, from overseeing fine arts until further notice.
The board appointed the district’s chief academic officer to oversee fine arts in the meantime.
Trustees also decided to hire a third-party investigator to look into the theater program.
Before the decisions were announced, 31 people took the stand to address the board members. The opinions were diverse, with some in support of Dr. Bennett.
“Get your pound of flesh somewhere else, let’s worry about our kids, let’s take care of our kids, " said a former Sherman Athletic Director, Bob Jones.
Much of his support came from local Christian organizations.
“You’re taking god out of schools,” said a speaker.
Others opposed Dr. Bennett and the decisions he has been a part of.
“Tyson Bennett has harmed students,” said Sherman theater parent, Matthew Krov.
Speakers also pushed for the investigation into the theater issues.
“Please hire an investigator to look into these instances,” said speaker Erin Clayton.
Phillip Hightower, the father of the transgender male who sparked this controversy, said Friday’s decisions were a step in the right direction.
“Anytime I hear about a dangerous person being taken away from kids, that’s great,” Hightower said, “I think it’s a great start.”
Hightower wants the investigation to give insight into what led to these decisions.
“I hope that it leads to the removal of the superintendent and the staff that he involved in this,” Hightower said.
Before Friday’s meeting, Sherman ISD created a new gender rule where theater students could only play roles matching their birth genders for the upcoming musical Oklahoma! This led several students to lose their roles, including a transgender male, earlier this month.
Soon after, the rule was retracted but the district announced it would use a more age-appropriate version of the play.
The trustees unanimously voted on a complete reversal in Monday’s board meeting. The show would go on with the original version of Oklahoma! and the original cast. Members also called for Friday’s special meeting.
The musical is set to take the Bearcat stage after mid-January.
News 12 will continue to follow the findings of the investigation.
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