Missouri Governor Mike Parson has appointed today two members to the state Board of Education – making the panel operational once again. Three board seats remain open but having five appointed members allows the group to take action.

Peter Herschend

Parson has appointed Peter Herschend of Branson and Carol Hallquist of Kansas City to serve.

“Governor Parson’s decision to appoint Carol and Peter will help restore and maintain stability,” said Charlie Shields, President of the Missouri State Board of Education. “As a board, we are ready to work together to give Missouri students what they deserve – the best public education.”

Herschend is a former board member who served for 26 years, including as president for a period. He is the founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation which owns Silver Dollar City.

Hallquist is the founder of PrincipalsConnect. The Kansas City nonprofit provides volunteers to urban schools by matching retired professionals with school principals. She is the former president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation of Hallmark Cards.

One of the next major orders of business for the board will be to launch a search for a new Commissioner of Education. Roger Dorson has been serving as the interim head since Margie Vandeven was terminated on December 1. Dorson has no interest staying in the position on a permanent basis.

Carol Hallquist

“We owe it to our students to provide the best, high quality public education in Missouri,” Parson said in a news release. “It was important to act quickly to restore and provide functionality to the State Board of Education. We expect the Board will begin conducting a diligent national search, to find a capable, qualified candidate to serve as Missouri’s Commissioner of Education.”

“Delighted to see Governor Parson make balanced appointments to the State Board of Education,” said Missouri State Representative Kathy Swan, Chairman of House Education Committee. “I look forward to continuing to work with the State Board to provide the nearly 900,000 Missouri students the finest public education Missouri can offer.”

The group’s work came to a screeching halt after former Governor Eric Greitens developed a plan last year to find candidates who would vote in favor of firing Vandeven. If they had a change of heart, Greitens replaced the appointees.

The tactics were carried out while the legislature was not in session – frustrating many legislators who said Greitens dodged the Senate’s role of confirming appointments. The chamber responded back by letting the five controversial candidate names ride off into the sunset.

Many Missouri education organizations are likely feeling a sense of relief today because the board can resume its work. Executive Director of the Missouri School Boards’ Association, Melissa Randol, praises Parson’s move.

“We thank Governor Parson for placing such a high priority on appointments to the State Board of Education. The extraordinary experience of the two appointees will enable the State Board to resume its responsibilities quickly. We look forward to working with the State Board on policy issues that will have a positive impact on the education being provided to Missouri’s 900,000 public school students,” Randol said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the board has a meeting scheduled for Thursday. The agenda includes an update on the search for the next Commissioner, renewal consideration for several charter schools and discussion about the development of MSIP 6 – the state’s school accountability system for reviewing and accrediting Missouri’s public school districts.

Thursday’s board meeting will be at the Jefferson State Office Building in Jefferson City at 8:30 a.m.

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