Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven announced Tuesday she would officially retire on July 1, 2024.
“Serving as Commissioner of Education for the great state of Missouri has been the honor and the opportunity of a lifetime,” Vandeven said at the State Board of Education meeting Tuesday.
Vandeven is a longtime employee of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Prior to her seven years as commissioner, she also served as deputy commissioner of learning services, assistant commissioner of quality schools and supervisor of school improvement.
Before working for DESE she was a teacher at two Catholic high schools.
Board president Charlie Shields praised Vandeven’s commitment to students, while Gov. Mike Parson called her a “true champion for public education.”
Although Vandeven won’t step down until next summer, it’s up to the state board to appoint her replacement.
“The Missouri State Board of Education will now begin the process of finding a successor,” Mallory McGowin, DESE’s chief communications officer, told The Lion. “At this time, there is no set timeline for that process and there has not been an interim commissioner named.”
According to DESE’s press release, Vandeven announced her retirement in advance to give the board additional time to find the next commissioner.
The Commissioner of Education is responsible for Missouri’s entire K-12 public education system and oversees all of DESE’s operations. And while the commissioner technically reports to the state board, those checks and balances often are blurred.
James Schuls, fellow of education policy at the Show-Me Institute, explained to The Lion that such volunteer school board members – whether local or state-level – “rely on the experts to give them the information.”
The superintendent or commissioner usually is that expert, and the board “trusts that individual and rubberstamps things,” Schuls concluded.