JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One of Missouri Governor Mike Parson first acts since taking office is rectifying the situation created by his predecessor that left the State Board of Education in disarray.
Parson on Tuesday morning announced that he had appointed Carol Hallquist and Peter Herschend to the board, bring the number of board members to five, the number required for a quorum.
The board had been reduced to three sitting members after the Senate refused to move forward any of former Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks. The five Greitens appointees led the effort to oust former commissioner Margie Vandeven, a move that did not sit well in the legislature’s upper chambers. And with those five not confirmed by the Senate, only the three original members (Charlie Shields, president; O. Victor Lenz Jr., vice president; and Michael W. Jones) were left, meaning that they lacked a quorum to take up any actions, including the search for a new education commissioner.
“We owe it to our students to provide the best, high-quality public education in Missouri,” Parson said in a statement. “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.”
Hallquist, of Kansas City, is the founder of PrincipalsConnect, a nonprofit organization that matches retired business professionals with urban school principals. She retired as president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation at Hallmark Cards, Inc. in 2016.
Hallquist’s community involvement focuses on education, diversity, and women’s leadership. She currently serves as the director of SchoolSmart Kansas City, as regional board chair of Teach for America, as a trustee on the William Jewell College Board of Trustees, and as a board member of Turn the Page KC.
Herschend, of Branson, is co-founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, formerly Silver Dollar City, Inc. He served as executive vice president of the organization for 20 years and then as vice chairman of the board until his retirement in 2006.
Herschend served three terms on the State Board of Education, including four two-year terms as president. In 2011, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce honored Herschend with its Education Supporter of the Year award.
“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.”
“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.”
“We are pleased to welcome both Carol and Peter to the State Board,” Interim Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Roger Dorson said. “We value their dedication to public education, and we look forward to working with them.”
Hallquist and Herschend will begin serving immediately with the Thursday, June 14, regularly scheduled meeting of the State Board of Education.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.