Rep. LaKeshia Myers Is a Double Dipper
Working as public school teacher and administrator while serving in Legislature, getting two full time salaries.
On Twitter, LaKeshia Myers identifies herself as a “State Representative for Wisconsin’s 12th District” and a “Former Educator.”
But she is not a former educator. She works full-time as Dean of Students for Whitman Middle School in the Wauwatosa Public Schools, at an annual salary of $75,142.
When combined with her salary as a Wisconsin legislator, of $55,141, Myers is earning more than $130,000 per year, and earning two pensions, all paid for by the taxpayers.
When she first ran and won her position as the Democratic Assembly representative from Milwaukee’s Northwest Side in November 2018, Myers was a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Voters might have assumed she would quit her job with MPS once she became a legislator. She did not.
Myers continued to work with MPS for the rest of the 2018-2019 school year and went back to a full-time job with MPS for the 2020-2021 school year, she says.
In August 2021, she took a job as assistant principal with Hamilton Middle School in the Madison Public Schools (she was welcomed to the job in a school newsletter) and served for a year in that position. She told Urban Milwaukee her salary was “sixty or seventy thousand.” It was actually nearly double that. She earned $91,556, according to the Madison Metropolitan School District media relations office, which responded to a public records request, but this was the prorated amount “based on days that were actually worked. She had a leave of absence of 50 days” and worked only 142 days, the school district noted. This suggests her full salary, had she worked all 192 days, would have been at least $120,000.
In an interview with Urban Milwaukee Myers described it as an interim position. The district noted that the job “was scheduled to end and she did not move into another position.” The school’s principal John Burkholder has not responded to a request for comment. Her last day was June 9, 2022.
Myers didn’t begin her current job with Wauwatosa’s Whitman Middle School until November 1, 2022, suggesting she did not have a job lined up when she left the prior job.
Myers’ district and voting address is in Milwaukee, but to do her assistant principal job in Madison she would have had to commute on a daily basis. Wasn’t that difficult?
Not at all, Myers said. “I’ve always done it,” she said, referring to holding two jobs. “It’s kind of become second nature for me.”
The pay for Wisconsin legislators was significantly raised back in the 1970s with the view of making it a full-time position. Only nine states pay legislators more than Wisconsin, according to a report by the National Conference on State Legislatures.
Myers has a reputation among legislators as not being a full-time representative, but she disputes this, saying “I’ve been quite an active legislator.”
“I haven’t missed any committee meetings that I know of,” she adds.
Actually, she has. In the 2021-2022 period, she missed both hearings of the Committee on Public Benefit Reform, three of six meetings of the Committee on Agriculture and one of three meetings of the Committee on Tourism. It would appear she cares the most about the Committee on Education: she attended 12 of its 14 meetings.
All told she missed about one-third of the committee meetings.
How can she attend committee meetings when she’s working full time as an educator, I asked. “I take time off when I have to come to Madison,” she said.
Myers defended what has often been slammed as double dipping from the public trough, saying “I would push back on that” and arguing that there have been many legislators with a second job, including Sheldon Wasserman, who was a full-time doctor while serving as lawmaker (he now serves as a part-time Milwaukee County supervisor). She also pointed to Ryan Clancy who has kept his job as county supervisor after winning a state Assembly position. But Wasserman’s second job was in the private sector and Clancy’s county supervisor job is part-time. (That said Urban Milwaukee published a column raising questions about Clancy’s decision.)
There have also been legislators who held two public jobs for a year or so, such as Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa or Republican Dean Kaufert, who collected two full-time salaries – as a Republican Assembly member and mayor — for eight months. And Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer served for years in the Wisconsin State Assembly while also holding the office of Manitowoc County executive.
But as this short list suggests, it’s fairly rare in Wisconsin for legislators to serve in a second full-time, tax-supported job. And Myers, to judge by her Twitter description, would rather keep this a secret from the voters.
Myers has now run three successful campaigns for the Assembly and Urban Milwaukee could find no indication that she has ever disclosed she works a second, taxpayer-supported, full-time job. Myers has a campaign Facebook page and frequently issues press releases and writes op eds for the Milwaukee Courier, but none that revealed her second full-time profession.
Myers attended several universities, getting her bachelors degree from Alcorn State University, a masters in education from Strayer University and a doctorate in education from Argosy University. But that has left her “a person with substantial student loan debt,” she wrote in 2020. “I understand the frustration that comes from having loans balloon with compounding interest.”
Which might help explain her need to make more money. But don’t voters in her district deserve some transparency about her doubled salary and pension paid by the taxpayers?
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