The Orange County Board of Education is set to pick its fifth member this upcoming Tuesday after the resignation of Tim Shaw last month, restoring the board to its full representation before they’re forced to go to a special election.
Shaw resigned at the board’s November 3 meeting, saying that he’d been threatened with a lawsuit alleging a conflict of interest due to his position on the board of education and the La Habra City Council, a seat he’s held since 2008.
His tenure on the board lasted almost two years after his victory in the 2020 primary election representing the OC Board of Education’s fourth district covering cities such as Fullerton, La Habra, Anaheim and Placentia.
Shaw said while he didn’t see any conflict as he’d never had to vote on anything directly impacting his home city before, he couldn’t justify the expense of fighting it out in court.
“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 phone interview with Voice of OC when he resigned last month. “I’m a community college teacher, it’s not like I’m rolling around in piles of gold here.”
Since then, the board has operated on a four person basis for multiple important votes, including the approval of the new voting district maps last week that will shape the board’s elections for the next decade.
In Orange County, most public agencies, including the board of education, have 60 days to appoint someone to a vacated seat or the question goes back to the voters on a special election ballot.
The board was accepting applications for the seat through Friday Dec. 17.
The only requirements to apply for the seat were proof of residence in the fourth district and an active voter registration.
Whoever fills the seat will hold it until June 30, 2022, at which point the seat will go back on the ballot for election again.
The county board of education doesn’t make decisions regarding curriculum in classrooms aside from recommendations to local school districts, but does handle charter school applications and is responsible for approving the county department of education’s budget.
Shaw’s resignation has also raised questions for Beckie Gomez, who represents the board’s first district in addition to her seat on the Tustin City Council.
Gomez generally serves as the lone dissenting voice against the board majority, and hasn’t announced any plans to give up the seat in the wake of Shaw’s resignation.
The board meets at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss filling Shaw’s seat, and has until Jan. 2 to fill the seat before the decision is handed back to voters.
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