Home>Articles>Tony Thurmond’s Philadelphia Crony: California’s ‘Superintendent of Equity’ Forced to Resign

Tony Thurmond. (Photo: cde.ca.gov)

Tony Thurmond’s Philadelphia Crony: California’s ‘Superintendent of Equity’ Forced to Resign

Was this newly created position funded by a grant, shadow government?

By Katy Grimes, December 20, 2021 8:04 am

The California Department of Education “Superintendent of Equity” Daniel Lee, was forced to resign his $180,000-per-year job, after Assemblyman Kevin Kiley sent a letter pointing out that state employment is only for California residents, making his hiring illegal.

Last week Politico reported that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hired his close friend and wedding party groomsman Daniel Lee, a psychologist, life coach and self-help author, to be California’s first superintendent of equity. However, Daniel Lee lives and works in Philadelphia, owns a Pennsylvania-based psychology firm and is the president of the New Jersey Psychological Association’s executive board. Lee has also been serving as a deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education since July 2020.

Thurmond foolishly defended Lee’s hiring saying he was the best person for the job, never explaining why someone from Philadelphia was working for California’s schools, or why Lee’s position was never publicly posted, or how someone who already had a business could serve as California’s full-time “Superintendent of Equity.”

Think of the irony of the nepotism involved in the hiring of the Superintendent of “Equity.” Isn’t this fraud? Shouldn’t the Attorney General investigate?

Making matters even more curious, Politico said the “Superintendent of Equity” position and salary was funded through a $700,000 grant from the “nonpartisan” William and Flora Hewlett Foundation “for support of equity and research efforts across the state of California.”

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, Politico reported.

Here is the word salad mission statement of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation:

“The CDE Foundation works 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.”

On its “Meet Our Funding Partners” page, this is the focus:

“The CDE Foundation is proud to support state-level, agency-led innovation in myriad areas of educational impact and equity. These include Education to End Hate and ongoing implicit bias and anti-racist training resources, a new Family Engagement unit, an Early Learning partnership with national and state experts, Youth Mental Health First Aid training infrastructure, the California Distinguished Schools Program, California Partnership Academies, Arts, Media and Entertainment (AME), general CDE capacity enhancements, and others in development.”

This sounds like shadow government. Some might even call it “dark money” funding a dubious position for a crony of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and programs that have little to do with actual education. And there is very little “nonpartisan” about the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as explained by InfluenceWatch.org.

Increasingly, positions in government are being funded by nonprofit organizations. Who are the employees accountable to if these are not taxpayer funded jobs? And why are nonprofits funding government jobs if not to influence government?

Recently, Thurmond announced the formation of an Advisory Board to help guide the work of the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP), according to the California Department of Education. “The CCSPP is a $3 billion project that will support schools that provide wraparound services for students impacted by the pandemic. Community schools integrate comprehensive, community-based services and programs that strengthen the health and well-being of students, families, and communities.”

Follow the money on this one. Who will be on this advisory board, and what will they be paid? To whom are they accountable? And why is this even needed?



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6 thoughts on “Tony Thurmond’s Philadelphia Crony: California’s ‘Superintendent of Equity’ Forced to Resign

  1. It’s bad enough that Californians should have to contend with a position such as the communist-sounding “Superintendent of Equity” and have to constantly babysit our state officeholders for heaven’s sake, but then to add insult to injury by having Supt of Instruction Tony Thurmond “hire” his groomsman and BFF whose home is in PHILADELPHIA to occupy the $180K per year position (likely before benefits)?

    Really now, if this doesn’t qualify as outrageous shamelessness from our “electeds,” NOTHING DOES. Yes, of course, this must be investigated by the A.G. (I know, keep dreaming), because we clearly have an actual trail to follow. Aside from the out-of-state nonsense, what if the “hire” is filling an empty position and there are kickbacks involved, just to name one possibility here?

    Thank you Katy Grimes for also for dragging out the extremely suspicious-sounding California Community Schools Partnership program for inspection in the sunlight. A $3 BILLION program for COVID effects on students? Sounds more like more slush funds added to the already-existing and always-growing pile. And don’t make me (bitterly) laugh about who is responsible for any COVID-and-related effects on CA kids!
    Also thanks again and as usual to Asm Kevin Kiley.

  2. My first reaction is to ask why Thurmond is still alive…but I’ll settle for asking why he’s not FIRED or facing criminal indictment! Like RIGHT NOW! Is it ’cause he’s ethnically immunized? I think so.

  3. Thanks to Kevin Kiley for blowing the whistle on this. “Superintendent of Equity” is just another example of an irresponsible government wasting taxpayer money.
    Thurmond is abusing his position and should step down.

  4. Getting rank and file jobs in state government is just a long process but once you are in it is at least 80% or more for getting promotions. Oh, and don’t ever make a “favored” employee mad at you because you can be black balled till the cows come home. I saw this happen at several different agencies; Corrections being one of the worst and DEFINITELY a good old boys club. Luckily I was never important enough to be effected by this very common practice.

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