Two lawsuits have been filed about efforts to terminate Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven. Former state Board of Education appointee Tim Sumners is suing Governor Eric Greitens and claiming the governor illegally withdrew the appointment. Sumners, who originally agreed to vote to fire Vandeven, had a change of heart. His decision prompted Greitens to reverse his appointment of Sumners to the board and replace him at the last minute with Jennifer Edwards of Springfield.
Greitens wants to remove Vandeven and reportedly replace her with charter schools advocate Kenneth Zeff of Atlanta.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent Greitens from making further board switches until a court rules on the potential law violation. Missouri House Democrats say Greitens cannot remove appointees without written notice and a hearing on charges of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.
Doug Hayter with the Missouri Association of School Administrators tells Missourinet the second lawsuit has been filed by Springfield teacher Laurie Sullivan against the board.
“That has to do with a potential Sunshine Law violation,” says Hayter. “It primarily cites the instance that the board going into executive or closed session and then making decisions or votes about who should be on the board was inappropriate, either by lack of notice or the fact that it’s not an appropriate vote in closed session.”
A judge will consider this afternoon the latter lawsuit.
The timing is key. The state board of education meets on Friday and some members could move to try and remove Vandeven from her position, unless the court gets involved and blocks the board from making such a move. Friday’s meeting will be in Jefferson City at 8:30 a.m.