Facing a lawsuit challenging her concurrent elected positions, Trustee Rebecca “Beckie” Gomez said she will resign from the Orange County Board of Education effective July 1.
Gomez announced her resignation during the OCBE meeting Wednesday evening.
“Although this lawsuit seeking to remove me from office was directed to me personally and does not impact public dollars, this litigation does affect the focus of the Board of Education,” Gomez said in a statement provided to the Register. “I do not want this latest lawsuit to be a further distraction from the mission of the board to educate our students.”
Santa Ana resident and GOP Assembly candidate Mike Tardif filed a lawsuit last month seeking to remove Gomez from the OCBE because she is simultaneously serving on the Tustin City Council.
Her council post is “unlawfully incompatible” with her work on the OCBE, the lawsuit alleged. It sought to have her forfeit her OCBE post because she was more recently elected to the city council.
Gomez, often a lone dissenting voice on the OCBE, implored the board to appoint a replacement who would “focus on the business of educating our children and supporting our children.”
“It has been one of the highest honors of my career to represent the First District on the Orange County Board of Education,” Gomez said. “Although I won’t be an elected official for this seat, I will continue to support public education so that the children of Orange County can achieve their highest goal.”
Gomez, whose term was set to run until 2024, represents Fountain Valley and Santa Ana as well as portions of Garden Grove and Tustin on the OCBE for District 1. She is a former appointed commissioner for the Orange County Waste Management Commission and has served in leadership roles for the Santa Ana River Flood Protection Agency and the Orange County Library Advisory Board.
Gomez is also vying for mayor of Tustin this year.
The lawsuit is similar to legal action taken last year by an Orange County resident against Trustee Tim Shaw, which led him to resign his seat on the board in November. But in a twist, Shaw left his La Habra City Council post a month later and asked to be appointed back to the OCBE. The board then re-appointed Shaw, with Gomez dissenting, during a rushed selection process where the outcome seemed pre-ordained.
That appointment led to a second lawsuit against Shaw by a La Habra constituent, Michael Sean Wright, who challenged how Shaw was appointed to the OCBE. In April, an Orange County Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Shaw from serving on the board.
The issue was to return to court, but the two sides — Shaw and Wright — settled earlier this month.