Missouri's new governor has named two members to the state's board of education, a move that will enable the panel to establish a quorum and meet for the first time in five months.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Gov. Mike Parson made the appointments less than two weeks after scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens resigned.
Parson's appointment of Carol Hallquist and Peter Herschend is expected to end more than five months of acrimony revolving around the state's K-12 education system.
“We owe it to our students to provide the best, high quality public education in Missouri,” Parson said in statement accompanying his appointments. “It was important to act quickly to restore and provide functionality to the State Board of Education."
Greitens had spent months last year stacking the state board with political allies in an effort to remove Margie Vandeven as Missouri's education commissioner.
He ultimately succeeded in appointing board members who carried out his desire to fire Vandeven, but in doing so, the governor angered lawmakers who had yet to vote to confirm any of Greitens' appointees to the board.
Because the Legislature was not in session in December, Greitens' appointees to the state board were able to join the board even though they had not been confirmed by the Senate.
Greitens withdrew the nominations when the legislative session began its regular session in January, and tried to reappoint them, but senators refused to confirm them. That left the board without enough members for a quorum.
Greitens resigned June 1 in the midst of accusations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations. After his resignation, prosecutors decided they would not pursue criminal charges.
Hallquist is the former president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation at Hallmark Cards, Inc. and founded the nonprofit PrincipalsConnect.
Herschend co-founded and co-owned Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., which owns the Silver Dollar City amusement park. He previously served three terms on the state board of education.
Parson says the state school board will begin pursuing candidates for education commissioner.
"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," Parson says.