The Orange County Board of Education is heading to court today to defend a vacancy for Tim Shaw, who was originally elected but left office last year when faced with a lawsuit.
Now the lawsuit against the council claims that state law says it is illegal to appoint someone to the board of directors from which they came out.
The lawsuit was filed by Michael Sean Wright, represented by former City Council candidate Tastina and attorney Lee Fink.
They are seeking an expedited resolution of the case.
“We hope the court finds it necessary to agree to issue a ruling that will give us the relief we seek, and if not tomorrow, then shortly thereafter,” Fink said in an interview Tuesday.
[Read: Tim Shaw Reappointed to OC Board of Education Two Months After Resignation]
Meanwhile, Shaw and his colleagues argue that the OC Education Board is not the governing board.
“It’s not the governing board of anything,” Shaw said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t run… we don’t run the education department.”
The board is responsible for approving applications for charter schools, interdistrict student transfers and approving the OC Department of Education’s annual budget, according to Shaw.
Judge Martha Gooding can decide the merits of the case and possibly if Shaw maintains his position on the board at a court hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. today.
In February 2021, Shaw was threatened with trial for holding a seat on both the Board of Education and the City Council.
Instead of fighting the case at his own expense, Shaw left his seat on the education council and remained in La Habra City Council.
At the time, he said he stepped down from the board because he was last elected to La Habra City Council in November 2020.
[Read: La Habra City Councilman To Resign Tonight From OC Board of Education Following Lawsuit]
His seat on the OC Education Council is scheduled for election in June this year.
Following Shaw’s resignation in November, board members announced they would conduct a series of interviews with interested candidates in December 2021..
But this morning during these interviews Shaw abruptly resigned from La Habra City Council and went on to ask for the return of his old job – arguing that since the claim to a conflict of interest is now controversial, he should be re-appointed to the post as someone won the last election in the constituency.
The council appointed him that night after an unscheduled closed meeting where board members stepped back behind closed doors to discuss their move, then came out and approved the Shaw’s return 3-1 vote, with proxy Becky Gomez disagreeing.
Wright, meanwhile, argues that Shaw’s reappointment violates section 1752 of the government code, which states:
“No person elected or appointed to the governing body of any city, county or district in which there is an elected governing body may be appointed to fill a vacancy on that governing body during the term for which he or she was elected or appointed.”
[Read: County Board of Education Sued For Reappointing One Of Its Members After Resignation]
Asked about their arguments earlier this month, Shaw said his place does not fall under those rules because the rules do not specify a special “board” of education.
“It says the governing body of a city, county or district. It does not say the word board. We are the board of education, ”Shaw said. “I had nothing but minor lawsuits from these people, they’re just upset.”
Shaw said he adheres to that view in a couple of weeks, adding that for a judge to remove him from office would be “a very extraordinary act.”
“You are not only canceling the results of the last election, but also the vote held by the council,” Shaw said. “It would leave the council in a precarious situation if we have 2-2 votes, it makes it difficult to get a quorum and obviously leaves the voters of the 4th constituency without representation for a certain period of time.”
The lawsuit alleges that state law applies to the process of appointing governing bodies such as the Orange County Board of Education.
“It’s an extraordinary position that they just don’t obey any law and we think that’s wrong. We believe that the Orange County Board of Education is governed by the law, and they cannot use the meeting to evade these requirements, ”Fink said.
Regardless of the outcome in June this year, the place will be selected.
Since Shaw left, the one who was appointed to the seat will only serve until the next election and then will have to run to retain his seat until the end of the term, which lasts until 2024.
Flight Chafi, the wife of district chief Doug Chafi, threw her hat into the ring as a contender for the seat with the support of various Democrat politicians.
In 2018, she turned down candidates for a seat on Fullerton City Council after allegations of stealing opposition signs.
[Read: Fullerton City Council Candidate Paulette Chaffee Halts Campaign After Sign Theft Accusations Sent to DA]
Doug and Shaw were also political rivals in 2018 during the race for the head of the county that Shaw lost.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC report officer. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
Hosam Elatar is a Voice of OC report officer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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