VDOE Equity Director Improperly Used State Resources to Establish a Consulting Business

Leah Dozier Walker. Credit: www.leahdozierwalker.com.

On Sept. 10, 2019, the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) received a hotline complaint. The complaint alleged that the Virginia Department of Education’s director of equity and community engagement, Leah Dozier-Walker, was “using state resources to establish a consulting company” performing “many of the same job functions” she performed for her job, according to a redacted summary report released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Additional allegations claimed that Dozier-Walker did not report the side business in her conflict-of-interest form, and that “state time” was being used for the business without Dozier-Walker signing a form for an approved outside business.

The OSIG report concluded that Allegation #1, alleging an unethical consulting business, was “sustained,” and Allegation #2 was “largely substantiated.”

Dozier-Walker is still listed in the Virginia state employee directory as Leah D. Walker , an employee of the Virginia Department of Education-Central Office Operations.

Screen capture from the State Employee Directory. Click to enlarge.

Between Jan. 1, 2019, and June 2020, Dozier-Walker’s salary increased from $88,300 to $102,219 — a 15.8% increase.

She had registered two websites in her name: LeahDozier.com and LeadingImpactNow.com. She had registered LeahDozier.com on March 29, 2019, and LeadingImpactNow.com on July 2, 2019. Neither site is active. The summary report said “both of these sites are closely linked together.”

Furthermore, the duties in her Employee Work Profile, a formal description of her job, “were either identical or nearly identical to the consulting services listed on the websites.”

One of the websites had a disclaimer, stating: “In accordance with my strict adherence to ethics requirements, I will not accept any work that conflicts with my obligations to the Commonwealth of Virginia.” But the report said, “It is debatable whether this disclaimer is sufficient or would negate any appearance of conflict of interest.”

A month later, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, Dozier-Walker incorporated Leading Impact No., LLC with the Virginia State Corporate Commission. The next day, during “state time,” the report said, Dozier-Walker posted a tweet at 1:54 p.m., stating she “started new job at Leading Impact Now (Owner and Founder).” A half an hour later, at 2:26 p.m., she requested an Authorization for Outside Employment Form, acknowledging receipt of the form at 3:33 p.m. But she hadn’t filed the form by January 2020.

The next month, in early September 2019, Dozier-Walker “apparently paid an outside firm to draft a prototype logo.” A staffer in her office “was asked to proof it and make suggestions,” which the staffer did “while on the job” for about an hour.

During staff interviews, the report said, an allegation emerged that Dozier-Walker was “never around” the office, creating challenges about the office’s work. According to a review of how her time and attendance between Jan. 1, 2019, through early September 2019, with 95.5 hours were “unexplained exceptions.”

In late 2019, Dozier-Walker’s job was reorganized, with communications, website and constituent services assigned to another director.

That winter, on Jan. 31, 2020, she filed a Statement of Economic Interest, answering “no” to questions about whether she got income from an outside business and owned a business of more than $5,000 in value. The investigator said it “cannot be readily determined” if the equity director responded accurately.

“In reviewing both websites,” the report said, “it is clear that Ms. Dozier-Walker has posted a number of pictures, documents and at least one video that was created by VDOE. Some photos show Ms. Dozier-Walker at various conferences while working in an official capacity of VDOE.”

Some of the photos included “‘Virginia is for Learners’ apparel that is a modification of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.”

The report said: “There is no record of permission granted for using this brand in a commercial setting. Additionally, it is unlikely that the Virginia Tourism Corporation would allow the branded ‘Virginia is for Learners’ in a for-profit business. Finally, this type of usage may be a copyright violation and subject VDOE and/or Ms. Dozier-Walker to unfavorable legal consequences.”

However, she has set up a new website LeahDozierWalker.com, which touts her resume as “an accomplished leader,” her experience in the public sector, her skills as “an effective communicator,” and her work in Equity & Inclusion, but does not offer any consulting services.

This article was published originally at the Parents Defending Education website, and is republished here with permission. It has undergone slight editing and some editorial updates before being posted on Bacon’s Rebellion. — JAB

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20 responses to “VDOE Equity Director Improperly Used State Resources to Establish a Consulting Business”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    If this is true as stated, it’s a serious ethical problem that needs to deal harshly with her and her chain of command.

    There are always people, of different political persuasions that don’t seem to know or care where the boundaries are.

    This happened more than a year ago and no actions taken?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Because rules don’t apply to Democrats, especially of the woke variety. Really, Larry, pay attention. She viciously trashed the Governor’s wife once, as I recall, and nobody is going to take her on again. The IG investigates the Parole Board and finds problems, and the IG becomes the target. Putin has nothing on these guys….

      A State Police investigation could get the financial records needed to determine if she lied about her income on the interest statement. One call to her bank with a subpoena and voila. But it won’t happen.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        If your claim is that Northam/Herring and company do nothing when they should, I’m not going to disagree… looks bad…

        But then again, so did McDonnell… 😉

        It happens but no excuses.

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Nothing happened to Bob McDonnell? Really? I could swear he was tried in a kangaroo court set up by one of the biggest ass-hats of our time … Eric Holder. And for what? Doing he same thing Tim Kaine did while he was governor? Then, a judge who should have never heard the case because McDonnell opposed his wife’s appointment as a judge gave jury instructions that were so prejudicial that the US Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn.

          As an aside, do you know what became of the man who donated time on his private Caribbean island for Kaine to take a vacation valued at $18,000? He’s now the Rector at UVa.

          Virginia is America’s most corrupt state.

          Nothing will happen to Leah Dozier Walker.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Bob McDonnell was a Democrat?

      3. James Kiser Avatar
        James Kiser

        Just like that state police investigation into the millions McAuliffe gave the Chinese

  2. If she had only done this in black face she would be okay….

  3. So, it’s pretty clear from the OSIG report that Dozier-Walker was mixing her official state duties with her side enterprise to make some extra coin. OSIG investigated, and she took down the two websites she was using to peddle her consulting services. There is no indication that she was disciplined. Not only did she keep her job, but she published a new website touting her credentials while carefully avoiding any suggestion that she was selling her consulting services.

    But who does that? What other state employee in the Commonwealth of Virginia publishes a website with big splashy photos and text highlighting their skills and accomplishments? Anyone in their right mind would entertain the suspicion that she’s still doing consulting — or wanting to do consulting — on the side.

    Is anyone exercising oversight at VDOE?

    1. James Kiser Avatar
      James Kiser

      No, is anyone exercising oversight in the entire state govt? No.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        That’s why Republicans gave up on “smaller government”. It puts a limit on what they can steal.

        1. James Kiser Avatar
          James Kiser

          I consider you by your comments to be a troll.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Dwarf. I suppose you to be an Elf?

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Equity, CRT, and BLM are a cottage industry. More profitable than selling Chia pets.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      You’re right about that but it don’t mean they’re not legitimate issues.

      1. I’m still looking for an empirical evidence based analysis showing how diversity improves the entity’s final product – whether it’s a NBA team with a 5-1 Jewish point guard or a company with a left-handed Urdu speaking transgender android [as compared to a competitor with no diversity-driven personnel roster].

        How about hiring the best possible ‘person’ without concern with anything other than skills.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          You fundamentally do not understand the PURPOSE of public education – which is to help EACH KID reach their potential NOT just pick the best kids.

          Different kids start out at different starting points depending on various factors. Some kids are literally late bloomers and/or they have real learning disabilities that need to be addressed. A LOT depends on what kind of help they get and what kind of resources they have access to. Not all schools provide all needed resources and that’s what some of the “equity” stuff is actually about. Equal access to resources not equal outcomes.

          All the “equity” stuff being discussed won’t make all white kids “equal” in outcomes, and we know that so why is it an issue with race?

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    She should be fired, for cause.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      You are about as in tune with the Ruling Clique of your party as I am with mine…the middle is wide open.

  6. CJBova Avatar

    The slogan, “Virginia is for Learners” was a VDOE initiative. So VDOE should object, not VTC. The Virginia Tourism Authority, does business as the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) and is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth per Va Code § 2.2-2315.

    One more failure of VDOE supervision.

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