JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Board of Education has chosen to hire the former K-12 Education Commissioner to fill the very same position she was ousted from nearly one year ago.
On Monday, Margie Vandeven was unanimously chosen to lead the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She was among four finalists who included Interim Commissioner Roger Dorson, Superintendent Eric Knost of the Rockwood School District, and Superintendent Bill Nicely of the Kearney School District.
As department head, Vandeven will oversee about 1,650 workers and work with 518 Missouri public school districts. Her salary will be just more than $190,000. She will begin her duties on January 2, 2019.
“I am grateful to the State Board of Education for entrusting me with the responsibility of serving as Missouri’s commissioner of education,” Vandeven said. “It is an honor to return to the department, and I remain committed to doing what is best for the children of Missouri. I look forward to working with stakeholders from across our state – urban, rural and suburban. Through active collaboration among state and local leaders, educators and our families, we will – together – advance opportunities for each student.”
“With Margie’s knowledge and enthusiasm, it is obvious that she will be up to speed in a very short time,” said Vic Lenz, vice president of the State Board of Education. “She has a vision for Missouri education that will fit perfectly with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation.”
This move comes almost one year after Vandeven was ousted from the same position. Vandeven initially became Missouri’s sixth Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on Jan. 1, 2015, and served in that position for nearly three years.
On December 1, 2017, five members on the Board of Education — all appointed by former-Gov. Eric Greitens in the interim — voted to remove the K-12 education chief. None of those board members were confirmed by the state Senate and no longer serve on the board.
Dorson has been serving as interim department head since.
“I want to thank Roger for his amazing leadership during a challenging time as well as express my appreciation to the education community for its support of DESE and the more than 900,000 Missouri students it serves,” said Charlie Shields, president of the State Board of Education. “We look forward to continuous progress for the department under Margie’s leadership.”
For a significant portion of the year, the Board of Education lacked a quorum of members and was unable to conduct official business. In September, the board launched its search for a permanent commissioner.
Vandeven who holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University most recently served as the Director of Educational Partnerships – State and Local Government at SAS. She began her education career in 1990 as a communication arts teacher in O’Fallon. She served as a teacher and administrator in Missouri and Maryland until 2005 when she went to work for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, under Vandeven’s direction, will look to continue its mission of guaranteeing the superior preparation and performance of every child in school and in life. The department focuses on three strategic priorities to help attain the goal that all Missouri students graduate ready for success: access, opportunity and equity, teachers and leaders, and efficiency and effectiveness.
“Missouri’s independent State Board of Education, through their selection process, unanimously chose a new commissioner of education,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Moving forward, we will continue working with Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to focus efforts on ensuring our students have the skills to succeed and meet the demands of tomorrow’s workforce.
Vandeven is the sixth individual, and second female, to serve as Missouri’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education since the position began in 1947.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.