The Sherman Independent School District Board of Trustees, following a closed-door session with attorneys  at noon today (Friday, Nov, 17), voted unanimously voted to remove SISD Superintendent Tyson Bennett from overseeing the district’s fine arts program, effective until further notice, and to hire a third-party special investigator to look into recent events surrounding Sherman High School’s planned production of Oklahoma! After the musical had been cast, including transgender senior Max Hightower in the role of Ali Hakim, Bennett instituted a new policy allowing on students assigned male at birth to play male roles, and only students assigned female at birth to play female roles. Two female students had also been cast in male roles.

Bennett then had high school principal Scott Johnson notify students’ parents by phone before the principal met with students themselves to tell them of the planned changes. Bennett also intended to force the students to switch to a revised “youth” edition of the beloved musical.

On Monday, Nov. 13, however, the school board voted to reinstate the original cast and to move ahead with the complete version of the musical as originally planned. The agenda for today’s meeting including considering putting Bennett on administrative leave, but the board chose not to do so.

Below is a recording of the voice mail Johnson left for the parents of a cisgender female student who had been cast in a male role.

— Tammye Nash