Pamela Kadakia served as the equity project manager for the California Department of Education while residing in her Dallas-area home, reported Politico, citing public records it obtained and her LinkedIn profile.
Under California law, state employees must live in-state unless the nature of their jobs requires otherwise. In addition, Texas is on a list of 18 states to which state-funded employee travel is banned because they have “enacted a law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
According to the education department’s website, Kadakia was working on a project aimed at providing “social isolation support” to children who are at increasing risks of anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies due to repeated school closures during the pandemic.
Kadakia resigned around Dec. 23, according to Politico. Her departure was confirmed to the outlet by California’s education department.
“We sought to ensure that all our personnel were in line with the new guidance,” a department spokesperson said. “In doing so, we accepted Ms. Kadakia’s resignation.”
The department updated its guidelines after Politico reported that Daniel Lee, California’s first-ever deputy superintendent of equity, lived and operated a business in Pennsylvania while being paid a wage up to nearly $180,000. Lee resigned earlier this month following the revelation.
According to the Politico report, Lee is a long-time close friend to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who appeared to have played an important role in Lee’s hiring. The job was never publicly posted, nor were the education officials able to tell whether anyone else had applied, although they defended the decision to hire Lee, a Pennsylvania-based psychologist who has no previous experience in working with California’s schools.
Politico also found that the “Superintendent of Equity” position and salary was initially funded through a $700,000 grant from the non-profit organization William and Flora Hewlett Foundation “for support of equity and research efforts across the state of California.” The foundation identifies as non-partisan, although its donations in recent years went overwhelmingly to the Democrats.
The Hewlett Foundation awarded the grant to the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, a nonprofit that partners with the state Department of Education and preceded Thurmond’s tenure, according to Politico. The CDE Foundation describes itself on its website as “a trusted partner with state education leaders and entities to create, resource, and implement solutions that result in a strong and valued public education system that serves every student in California.”