Beckie Gomez, the Orange County Board of Education member representing families in Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, and parts of Garden Grove and Tustin, resigned last night.
Her resignation comes after a lawsuit was filed against her for serving simultaneously on the county board as well as the Tustin City Council after one of her constituents sued her, questioning if her dual roles constitute a conflict of interest.
Rather than fight the issue in court, Gomez closed Wednesday night’s board meeting by announcing her resignation.
“After being recruited to run in 2016, I received more than one legal opinion which did not indicate an incompatibility,” Gomez said. “With deep regret, I will be resigning as the board of education trustee for Area 1 effective July 1st 2022.”
Gomez has two years left on her term, and the choice of who replaces her will be left in the hands of the board majority she’s regularly disagreed with for years.
“It is my hope the trustees elected in June will appoint a reasonable, judicious colleague who is willing to do the work.,” Gomez said.
Mike Tardif, a State Assembly candidate endorsed by the local Republican Party, filed the lawsuit against Gomez with approval from the State’s Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Gomez isn’t the first county board of education to be sued for serving in two elected roles.
Tim Shaw has also been sued for serving on the La Habra city council while simultaneously serving on the board of education.
Shaw resigned his seat on the board and his post on the La Habra City Council, but was then appointed back to the board of education by his colleagues. One of Shaw’s constituents then sued him arguing his appointment was illegal following his resignation a month earlier.
In late April, Orange County Superior Court Judge Martha Gooding ruled to temporarily remove Shaw from the board, saying it was an open question on whether he was legally appointed, just days before Bonta greenlit the lawsuit against Gomez.
Shaw’s on track to be reelected to the OC Board of Education.
As of today, Shaw has garnered about half of the 76,000 votes counted so far in his reelection campaign. His opponent Paulette Chaffee trails behind at 33% of the vote.
Gomez was often the dissenting voice on the board, voting against recommendations by the board majority for a return to school without masks and social distancing in 2020 amid COVID-19 school closure.
In her final remarks, Gomez reiterated those views, calling on her colleagues to approve charter schools that were approved by the county Department of Education and not authorize charter schools the department hasn’t approved.
“Our charter schools should be a choice … but all charter schools should provide a quality education so we do not jeopardize the future of these students,” Gomez said. “Approving charter schools that do not have a strong curriculum, qualified teachers and administrators, and adequate facilities will not serve our county well.”
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporter and a corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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