The Virginia Department of Education’s director of equity and community engagement allegedly used state resources to establish an equity consulting business, according to a report from the Office of the State Inspector General (IG).
In September 2019, the IG received two complaints alleging that Leah Dozier-Walker violated state and Education Department policies. The first alleged that Dozier-Walker used state resources and office time for her personal consulting business.
According to the IG report obtained by Parents Defending Education, Dozier-Walker created and operated two websites, “LeahDozierWalker.com” and “LeadingImpactNow.com.” Following the investigation, Dozier-Walker deleted “LeadingImpactNow.com,” though her personal website still references the brand. The investigation concluded Dozier-Walker developed personal resources and services that were “entirely duplicative” of the duties performed by her state government position.
Included on her websites were photos, documents, and a video that was created by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Some of the photos show Dozier-Walker at various conferences working in her official capacity for VDOE.
Other photos posted include a slogan and apparel that read, “Virginia is for Learners,” which is a modification of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.
“It is unlikely that the Virginia Tourism Corporation would allow the branded ‘Virginia is for Learners’ in a for-profit business,” the report reads. “This type of usage may be a copyright violation and subject VDOE and/or Ms. Dozier-Walker to unfavorable legal consequences.”
The Virginia Equity department aims to give every student not only equal opportunity but equal outcomes. According to the department’s website, it is committed to eliminating the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, or socio-economic status.
The report also details staff interviews regarding Dozier-Walker’s professional conduct. According to one staffer, Dozier-Walker was “never around” and her absences “create[d] challenges in the management and direction of the office.”
Dozier-Walker allegedly asked an employee to do her a “favor” and review a logo for her personal blog and make suggestions during work hours.
A staff member also shared a since-deleted Facebook post with investigators in which Dozier-Walker announced she had “taken a new job at Leading Impact Now” as the “owner and founder.”
The investigation dug into Dozier-Walker’s time and productivity logs and found that she had a total of 95.5 hours of “unexplained exceptions” during work hours, in part from abusing work-from-home privileges.
“After review of building access history, timesheets, etc., it appears that Ms. Dozier-Walker took broad latitude in modifying her established office hours, telework, attend[ing] offsite meetings, and networking at coffee shops, etc. during work hours,” the report said. “Telework was used extensively on other days than her approved Friday telework day.”
Nonetheless, Dozier-Walker’s salary was raised from $88,300 to $102,219 between January 2019 and March 2020.
The second allegation claims that Dozier-Walker provided false information on government ethics forms. On Jan. 31, 2020, Dozier-Walker claimed that she did not receive income from an outside business and did not own a business with a value greater than $5,000.
The investigation was unable to determine whether Dozier-Walker told the truth on government forms. Dozier-Walker claims that while the business was incorporated, it did not have a business license or federal tax identification number, therefore, “no business [had] been established.”
The IG report recommended — among other things — that Dozier-Walker make restitution for the 95.5 “unresolved leave hours.” It also recommended that the VDOE suspend her telework privileges and monitor her activity closely.
Dozier-Walker denies the findings of the investigation, which, according to records obtained by The Daily Wire, was so extensive that it cost taxpayers $25,000.
“The allegations against me are appalling and untrue. I have worked in public service for 20 years and have never been accused of wrongdoing,” Dozier-Walker told the Richmond Free Press. “I have not abused my position or misused government resources.”
Dozier-Walker remains an employee of the Virginia Department of Education and is highly involved in creating the state’s new social studies curriculum framework.
A spokesman for the VDOE told The Daily Wire that the department considered all of the IG report’s recommendations and “took steps to implement them as appropriate.”
“Ms. Walker is currently an employee and in good standing at the VDOE,” the spokesman said.