COSTA MESA, Calif.—A local resident is requesting that an Orange County Board of Education trustee be temporarily removed following allegations that he was illegally appointed to his vacant seat in December 2021.
Michael Sean Wright was set to appear in front of an Orange County Superior Court judge on Feb. 10 after filing a legal challenge on Jan. 28 alleging that the board of education violated state law when reappointing Trustee Tim Shaw to his former seat.
On Feb. 10, Wright was set to request that the judge shorten the time the board had to respond to the legal challenge, require a special election to fill Shaw’s seat, and temporarily prohibit Shaw from serving on the board until a hearing on the lawsuit is granted.
“We want the case expedited, and to prevent Mr. Shaw from serving while the case is pending,” attorney Lee Fink, who is representing Wright, told The Epoch Times.
If the judge rules in favor of Wright, Shaw’s seat will be left vacant with the fourth district being unrepresented once again.
“I won the election seat, fair and square,” Shaw told The Epoch Times. “Legal actions are all about overturning the election results. One lawsuit after another is trying to get me unappointed.”
Shaw, whose seat is up for grabs during the June 7 primary election, sees the legal challenge as being a “waste of taxpayer money.”
“Why not wait until we have this election in June?” Shaw said. “We will wait until we settle this through the democratic process.”
According to the lawsuit, Shaw shouldn’t have been reappointed to his former seat on the school board due to state law that says “the local board may not re-appoint to the office the person whose resignation caused the vacancy in the first place.”
However, Shaw said the state law argued in the lawsuit doesn’t apply to the board of education. It only applies to the governing body for a city, county, or district—which the board of education doesn’t fall under.
“We are none of those things,” Shaw said. “I think the law is on our side here.”
The legal challenge comes months after Shaw resigned from the board of education in November 2021 after facing another legal challenge accusing him of partaking in a conflict of interest by holding incompatible offices and serving simultaneously on the county board of education and La Habra City Council.
Shaw decided to step down from his role as a trustee to avoid costly legal fees despite disagreeing with the allegations.
The board was tasked to either appoint a new trustee to fill the vacancy within 60 days or hold a special election.
As the 60-day deadline approached, the board reappointed Shaw after interviewing seven candidates.
To avoid further conflict, Shaw resigned from the La Habra City Council prior to his reappointment.
While this is the second attempt to get Shaw unappointed, he views the efforts to be a distraction to the work the board is intended to provide for county-wide K–12 public schools.
“A board of education should be about educating young people, but it is being treated as a game,” Shaw said. “I’m disappointed we have to have such distraction, such waste in this arena. It’s all about the kids.”
After meeting on Feb. 10, the judge ruled to reconvene on Feb. 16 to allow more time to review the case.