Two California Education Officials Resign Over Out-of-State Residency

Two California education officials have resigned in the last two weeks after it was discovered that the two lived out of state and had little connection with California. The most recent resignation is Pamela Kadakia, who follows the resignation of Daniel Lee who had been set to become California’s first superintendent of equity. 

Kadakia was set to serve as an equity project manager. California law states that state employees must reside in California unless their job requires them to live elsewhere. However, Kadakia lives in Texas, a state that California has banned state travel to over the abortion law in Texas and other laws that California has called “discriminatory”. A statement from the California Department of Education said, “We sought to ensure that all our personnel were in line with the new guidance. In doing so, we accepted Ms. Kadakia’s resignation.” In a report obtained by Politico, Kadakia and her husband purchased a home in Dallas back in 2019 and started living in Texas as of 2016. Kadakai is originally from California and graduated from Cal State Fullerton, but her education doctorate came from Texas A&M. 

Kadakia’s resignation comes just after the resignation of Daniel Lee. Lee had been hired as the first superintendent of equity, a position that would address inequities in California schools. However, Lee had zero connection to California and was still living in Philadelphia. His hiring caused many to claim favoritism as he is a close friend to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Carl Pinkson, the Sacramento Black Parallel School Board Director said of Lee’s hiring that, “Irrespective of who it is, to have someone from out of state who is not familiar with California’s dynamics and politics and challenges come in and attempt to do this work only furthers the fundamental problem”. Not only was Lee completely unqualified for the position he would receive a taxpayer-funded salary of around $160,000 to $180,000. Lee resigned from his position two weeks ago. While acknowledging his friendship with Lee, Thurmond stood by his hiring, “The fact that we have known each other for 30 years … if he’s doing great quality work, what difference does it make how long we’ve known each other?” Lee not only did not live in the state, he had no relationship with the state or any school districts and is a psychologist with his own business back in Philadelphia. Thurmond also said that the pandemic allowed them to expand their hires to other parts of the country as their jobs would not require physical attendance most of the time.

It should not be hard for any state to fill positions, but California is the exception. The jobless rate is still the one of the highest and our education system has problems, particularly in inner cities. But rather than look for candidates who are connected to local districts and parents, California outsourced those jobs to people who were unqualified.

Photo Cred: Associated Press