Missouri education commissioner ousted

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JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri State Board of Education voted to oust Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven, hours after Gov. Eric Greitens appointed a new member, Eric Teeman to the board.

Vandeven was removed from her position by a vote of three to five. She said Missouri's education system has changed from previous years.  

"The job of Commissioner of Missouri traditionally is not a political role," Vandeven said. "But, at the moment, political forces are eclipsing educational decisions." 

Vandeven said during her position she had the opportunity to serve up to 900,00 students. She said she will continue to fight for teachers and students. 

"I am an educator; a teacher. Like most Missouri teachers, I focus on students," Vandeven said.

Shortly after the decision, Greitens released a statement. He said in his statement getting new leadership is a move in the right direction. 

"We need to: raise teacher pay, support public schools, and help students succeed. We need to make sure that the money Missourians spend on schools gets out of the bureaucracy—and into the classroom."

Greitens has been trying to get a majority of board members to fire Vandeven, but the attempt failed on a four to four tie vote last week when another Greitens appointee, Claudia Onate Greim, broke ranks and voted to keep Vandeven. Greim resigned from the board Thursday.

Greitens said in his statement "today kids, teachers, and families have won."

Vandeven said she didn't want the focus to be on her position removal. She said she want people to celebrate the board members decision to give the Normandy School District of St. Louis provisional accreditation. 

"Please let this story be about Normandy," Vandeven said. "The stories are countless about how that region has worked together to support our children." 

President Charlie Shields is one out of the three board members who voted to keep Vandeven. He said he doesn't agree with the final decision.

"This is a difficult day for me," Shields said. "I just keep looking at her grace and it inspires me."

Officer at Missouri School Boards Association Larry Felton was in attendance when the Commissioner was forced down. He said the final decision was disappointing. 

"I've had a chance to work with her and I've seen the work that the state has done in terms of approving achievement," Felton said. "My main concern is the constitutional issue in the way that which this happened." 

Vandeven said she appreciates the time she spent as the Missouri Education Commissioner.

"It is an opportunity that I will forever cherish," Vandeven said. 

The board members said they are not sure who will replace Vandeven.

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