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Greitens removes local businesswoman from state board appointment

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Last edited 12:57 p.m., Sept. 19, 2017

Gov. Eric Greitens’ office informed Melissa Gelner, one of his picks for the Missouri State Board of Education, she was no longer being considered for the position, Gelner confirmed this morning.

Gelner, Askinosie Chocolate LLC’s chief kinship officer, said she received notification Sept. 15 regarding her removal from the board’s District 7 seat. She was slated to fill outgoing board member and Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. co-owner Peter Herschend’s seat. Greitens’ office announced the selection of Gelner in a July 31 news release.

Greitens’ spokesman Parker Briden and other government officials could not be reached for comment by deadline on the decision. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Greitens withdrew Gelner’s appointment after she would not commit to vote to oust Margie Vandeven as commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education during a meeting scheduled today.

Declining to specifically discuss her removal from consideration, Gelner issued a statement and pointed to the article by the Post-Dispatch.

“I disagree with the governor's decision to withdraw my appointment as a member of the Missouri Board of Education,” Gelner said in the emailed statement. “I am frustrated by the governor's policy team. Since my appointment, I have seen very little effort from them to collaborate with DESE to work on behalf of our public schools. 

“I am also concerned about the pressure I’ve recently experienced to make rash leadership decisions. While appointed to their positions by the governor, Board of Education members volunteer their service and are required by law to serve the Board of Education on behalf of the 900,000 Missouri students, not elected officials.”

Meanwhile, Greitens has appointed Heidi Crane, chief financial officer for Copy Products Inc., for the state board instead of Gelner, the Springfield News-Leader reports. Crane could not be reached for comment by deadline.

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