On Tuesday, December 21, the Orange County Board of Education sought to fill the District 4 Trustee seat vacated by Tim Shaw on November 1st, which came as a result of a lawsuit filed against him. I was among the six other candidates that sought the position, which included several college-level professors, community advocates, and other experienced professionals. The other six candidates who attended the meeting rightfully assumed we would get a fair shot at attaining the post, but we were wrong.
The Orange County Board of Education has long been mired in controversy, using public funds to mount lawsuits involving invocation at board meetings, to suing the governor regarding public health mandates. These frivolous lawsuits and embarrassing uses of public funds to finance personal political issues of the members of the board is a direct violation of the non-partisan offices to which they were elected. To those who are unaware of what the Orange County Board of Education’s responsibilities include, you are not alone. Among their responsibilities are: approving the budget for the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), serving as an appeal board for expulsions and interdistrict transfers, approving purchases of property for department programs, and a few others. The powers allotted to them do not extend to some of the hyper-partisan battles they have found themselves in.
Furthermore, we as a community should be appalled at the lack of transparency and respect for the rule of education law with what happened on Tuesday night. Mr. Shaw, who resigned his post on the La Habra City Council on Tuesday morning, unbeknownst to the public but not to the board, should call into question the legitimacy of the legal process which the board oversees.
During the questions posed by the board members to potential candidates, Dr. Shana Charles, objected to Mr. Shaw being present, as he had not resigned his position on the La Habra City Council on Monday night like he stated he would. To this Ken Williams interjected on his behalf, saying “Mr. Shaw resigned as of this morning.” How would Mr. Williams know this? It was not public record at the time of the meeting, which shows that the process was not fair and the board members clearly coordinated private discussions about this matter, which is a violation of the Brown Act.
After candidates had been interviewed and the Board took a short break, Mr. Williams put forth a motion to reopen the candidate pool. This motion, according to Deputy Superintendent Nina Boyd, would be logistically impossible due to the upcoming Christmas holiday and the December 30th deadline for appointing the vacant seat. Mr. Williams argued back and forth that staff would have to go “above and beyond” to accommodate the Board’s decisions during the holiday season, which shows a deep lack of respect for the people that work with these Board members.
Initially, I sought the position so I could bring a teacher’s perspective to the Board in the six months of the provisional term. Many of their positions on current events are woefully out of touch with reality. At one point, Mr. Williams asked candidates a long-winded, convoluted question, citing “drag queens reading books to children… and promoted pedophilia by lowering the age of consent.” I was stunned that Mr. Williams was so uninformed and obviously fabricating nonsensical boogeymen to scare conservative-leaning parents into taking actions against their schools and teachers. None of the board members have visited any campuses they proclaim are teaching Critical Race Theory (also known as CRT, a legal analysis framework taught at the university level), gender theory, or the like. How could they possibly know? The answer is that they do not, and they want to cling to the hope that they can keep people ignorant of what really happens in our schools because it fits their political agenda.
During the pandemic, from distance learning until today, teachers have dealt with immeasurable difficulties, many seeing the direst outlook for public education in generations. Staggering resignations and retirements of teaching staff, lack of substitute teachers and support professionals, and unprecedented anger directed towards teachers and school boards have all led to a toxic environment where students cannot thrive. We as a community deserve better than Ms. Barke, Dr. Sparks, Mr. Shaw, and Mr. Williams.
These uninformed partisans will continue to make a mockery of our county as long as they sit in those seats. Join me and other voters of District 4 in June of 2022 and oust Mr. Shaw from his seat when he comes up for a special election. Our students deserve people with real experience in our communities to lead the way to a brighter and more hopeful future in education.
William Renner is an educator and has been working in the Chino Valley Unified School District as a teacher for six years. He has also served as a union representative for over five years and is a strong advocate for public education. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Fullerton and will attain his Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from CSUF in May 2022. William grew up and attended school in La Palma and now resides in Anaheim with his husband.
Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.
Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please email email@example.com.