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Missouri Board of Education votes to keep top education official

The Missouri Board of Education voted Tuesday to keep Commissioner Margie Vandeven as the state’s top education official.

The board voted 4-4 to keep the commissioner. According to the board meeting’s minutes, four of the five board members appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens voted to remove her.

Greitens was trying to oust Vandeven, although he has not elaborated as to why.

Before the board met, Greitens appointed Jennifer Edwards to the Board of Education, less than 24 hours after he withdrew his appointment of Timothy Sumners.

Sumners said Greitens withdrew his appointment because he publicly said he would not oust the current commissioner.

Greitens had the opportunity to appoint five of the eight board members, which is the first time a governor has had five vacant positions to fill.

Education leaders said Greitens’ actions will most likely be taken to court because, according to Missouri statutes, a board member cannot be removed by the governor until after “written notice and hearing on charges of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.”

Greitens released a statement after the board’s decision was made public. He said the vote worked for insiders and bureaucrats who get paid well, not for teachers and students.

“There are a lot of people committed to the status quo. They’ve been willing to harass and intimidate anyone who stands up to them. That won’t stop us from doing what’s right. We’re fighting to get results for Missouri teachers and students,” Greitens said.

Superintendents of school districts from all across the state said the opposite.

“Today, four members of the State Board of Education put the children of Missouri above politics. They saw that firing a successful CEO is not in the best interest of public education in our state,” Dr. Peter Stiepleman, Columbia Public School District superintendent, wrote in a statement.

“My concern is for the students, and I think that Dr. Vandeven has done an outstanding job in supporting of our students and moving the state forward,” Kevin Patterson, Ozarks Public School District superintendent, said.

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