Education commissioner ouster draws outrage

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (MGN Online)

The Missouri State Board of Education has voted to oust Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven, hours after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens appointed a new member to the board.

Greitens has been trying to get a majority of board members to fire Vandeven, but the attempt failed on a 4-4 tie vote last week when another Greitens appointee, Claudia Onate Greim, broke ranks and voted to keep Vandeven.

Greim resigned Thursday and Greitens appointed Eric Teeman of Raytown. The board voted 5-3 Friday to remove Vandeven.

It's unclear why Greitens wants a new commissioner to lead the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In a statement, the governor called the board's vote "a major step in the right direction as we work to improve public education in Missouri."

Critics, including the Legislature's two most powerful Democrats, released statements accusing Greitens of stacking a board that is supposed to be independent.

Senate Democratic Leader Gina Walsh says Missourians who care about schools should be outraged. House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty called the ouster "the worst abuse of political power by a Missouri governor in living memory."

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