La Habra City Councilman Tim Shaw is resigning his post as a board member of the Orange County Board of Education on Wednesday night after a long legal battle debating whether or not he should serve on both panels.
Shaw said while he believed he could argue his case and win in court, he decided to resign from the board of education now to avoid any potential legal fees or further arguing.
“I can’t expose my family to financial risk like that for a job that pays $500 a month if I’m going to be handed a $250,000 legal bill. No thank you,” Shaw said in a Wednesday phone interview. “I’m a community college teacher, it’s not like I’m rolling around in piles of gold here.”
The Orange County Board of Education meets tonight and Shaw said he plans to formally resign then.
Shaw is currently in the middle of his fourth term on the La Habra City Council after winning reelection last year, having served 13 years on the council since his election in 2008.
But in early 2020, Shaw picked up a second role with his first term on the county Board of Education, where he represents the cities of Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia and portions of Anaheim.
His terms for both offices expire in 2024.
Shaw said he’d been quietly fighting a legal battle over the last nine months to keep his seat on both boards after he was sued by Melissa Louden, one of his constituents who argued his position on both panels was a conflict of interest.
Shaw argued that because the Board of Education and the city of La Habra have never directly interacted with each other, there’s no conflict.
“When I do my ethics training as a city council member, there’s a section on incompatible offices — before I even ran I pulled that up and looked closely at it,” Shaw said. “When this person serves me the lawsuit, they don’t even allege there was a particular issue or vote where my loyalties were in conflict.”
“They’re arguing as long as we can dream up a hypothetical, no matter how remote the possibility of that event ever happening, if they can dream it up that’s enough I should be forced off one of the offices.”
But the state attorney general’s office ultimately sided with Louden.
In an unsigned statement to Voice of OC, the attorney general’s office confirmed it had “granted an application for leave to sue in quo warranto in this matter.”
According to the attorney general’s website, quo warranto is a suit specifically aimed at determining whether or not a specific person has the right to hold the office they occupy.
It does not review their performance in the office.
Shaw said he would miss the Board of Education and the impact it has on students, adding he would consider running again in 2024 and leaving the La Habra City Council behind.
“It’s been so rewarding being on that board,” Shaw said. “You look around at the young people and you think this is why I go through the BS. It’s been very rewarding to me personally being on the Board of Education.”
The Board of Education will have 60 days to appoint Shaw’s successor or call for a special election. If they run past the 60 days deadline, it automatically goes on the ballot.