Former Aides Allege Toxic Workplace Under Tony Thurmond

POLITICO has published an explosive report on the working environment at the California Department of Education under Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. The publication spoke with 24 anonymous sources familiar with the office who allege a dysfunctional and toxic workplace with high turnover, mistreatment of staff, and loyalty pledges.

The CDE has lost nearly two dozen senior officials since Thurmond took over in 2019. Many of them pointed the finger directly at Thurmond. Seven former officials told POLITICO that disagreement with the superintendent is not tolerated and three described the working environment as abusive. Some said working for Thurmond had impacted their mental health.

“The CDE organizational chart, updated just last month, is already out of date,” according to POLITICO. “Five of the 34 officials listed as overseeing the 2,174-employee agency are no longer there, in addition to two vacancies for general counsel and an audits director on the chart.”

As the publication notes, Thurmond took an inactive role when it came to school closures and the pandemic. One source expects that to continue as turmoil and personnel shortages hinder the department’s ability to function.

“The long-term end result of this might be that more and more of the operations of the department come under the control of the governor,” the former CDE official said. “People are coming and going, trying to survive working under him, and it’s getting to the point where who is going to be left to get things done? The last thing you want to do is work for him.”

Read more about the allegations and the CDE's response here