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Missouri Education Commissioner To Step Down In December

State of Missouri

Updated, 3:45 p.m. Monday:

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro is retiring at the end of the year, according to a statement out Monday from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Nicastro has led DESE since 2009. During her tenure, the department oversaw the first transfers under a Missouri law that allows students from unaccredited school districts to leave for neighboring accredited districts.

“I believe strongly that this is the time to take stock, fine-tune programs and practices we’ve put in place, and work closely with stakeholders throughout the State to imbed and implement with fidelity,” Nicastro said in the statement. “This is exactly the right time both personally and professionally for a change in leadership.”

During Nicastro's tenure, the Kansas City Public Schools lost accreditation and recently regained provisional status. KCPS Superintendent Stephen Green says even though he did not always agree with Nicastro politically, he respected her career as an educator.

"Moving forward, I urge the State Board of Education to consult with urban, suburban and rural school districts during this transition period and to appoint a commissioner who will have the best interest of all students in his or her heart," Green said in a statement.

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James echoed Green's thanks to Nicastro for her service. He says no matter who's leading DESE, the city needs to focus on having world-class schools, not just accredited ones.

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