- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Springfield businesswoman Melissa Gelner, whose appointment to the Missouri Board of Education was withdrawn Friday, criticized Gov. Eric Greitens‘ office for what she called a lack of effort to work for public education in Missouri and said she was pressured to make “rash leadership decisions” while on the board.

Gelner, an official with Askinosie Chocolate who has been involved in Springfield-based programs for children, said she was notified Friday afternoon that Greitens no longer wanted her to serve on the eight-member board, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

She was appointed to the board in July and was already serving, although she and other appointees would eventually have to be approved by the Missouri Senate.

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Gelner said since her appointment she had seen little effort from the Greitens’ administration to work with Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to help public schools. She said she was also concerned about “the pressure I’ve recently experienced to make rash leadership decisions,” although she didn’t elaborate on those decisions.

Board members, while appointed by the governor, are “required by law to serve the Board of Education on behalf of the 900,000 Missouri students - not elected officials,” she said.

Greitens‘ spokesman, Parker Briden, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Gelner was appointed to replace Peter Herschend of Branson, who said Gelner was an excellent candidate for the board. He also was troubled by allegations that the governor’s office might pressure a state board member.

“In 26 years, I’ve served with seven governors and not one time did I have a call from the governor or the governor’s office to say do something,” he said. “I had calls saying ‘This is our position’ and that you’d expect.”

The state board is expected to meet Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Gelner is the second of three of Greitens‘ July appointments who is no longer on the board. Delbert Scott, of the Kansas City area, turned down the appointment in August. He is president of Kansas Christian College and a member of the Missouri Charter Public School Commission and said he wasn’t aware that state law forbids members of the state board to have connections with specific schools.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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