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St. Louis senator blocks state school board appointee, citing 'time for fresh ideas'

Peter Herschend listens to a presentation during a state school board meeting June 14.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
Peter Herschend listens to a presentation during a state school board meeting June 14.

Updated Sept. 17 at 11:30 a.m. with comments from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed — State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed objected to one of the governor’s four appointments to the Missouri State Board of Education, leaving Peter Herschend off the board after just three meetings.

Nasheed, D-St. Louis, held up a vote on Herschend Friday during a flurry of board appointments as part of a joint-veto and special session of the legislature. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, eventually withdrew the nomination.

Nasheed has long opposed the 2007 state takeover of St. Louis Public Schools, which happened while Herschend was on the board, but said she’s gotten over that. She told St. Louis Public Radio on Monday that Herschend has not done enough to improve public education in the state during his nearly three-decade-long first stint on the board.

“It’s time for fresh ideas and new concepts to move the public schools forward in the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri,” Nasheed said. “Nothing personal.”

Three other picks to the state school board — Kim Bailley, Don Claycomb and Carol Hallquist — were approved by the Senate.

Parson inherited five vacancies on the board because the Senate had refused to confirm picks by former Gov. Eric Greitens as retribution for using recess appointments to stack the board with loyalists in order to fire the education commissioner. It was left without enough member’s to hold a meeting for six months.

Herschend is a Branson businessman who had previously served on the board for 26 years before being pushed off by Greitens. Parson put him and Hallquist on the board as interim appointments in June to end the policy logjam created by a board without a quorum.

Herschend blamed “local politics in St. Louis” for the snub.

The governor “stands behind the quality of all of our appointments,” said spokeswoman Kelli Jones.

Parson will reappoint Herschend in the near future, Jones said. Nasheed said she has not decided yet if she will block the appointment a second time.

The state school board does still have enough confirmed members to hold its scheduled meeting Tuesday.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

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Ryan Delaney works on the Innovation Trail project - covering technology, economic development, startups and other issues relating to New York's innovation economy.
Ryan Delaney
Ryan is a reporter on the education desk at St. Louis Public Radio, covering both higher education and the many school districts in the St. Louis region. He has previously reported for public radio stations WFYI in Indianapolis and WRVO in upstate New York. He began his journalism career working part time for WAER while attending Syracuse University. He's won multiple reporting awards and his work, which has aired on NPR, The Takeaway and WGBH's Innovation Hub. Having grown up in Burlington, Vt., he often spends time being in the woods hiking, camping, and skiing.