Superintendent Al Mijares and OC Board of Education incumbents win re-election

OCDE sign

Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares and the incumbents on the OC Board of Education have all officially earned victories in the June election, according to recently certified results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Mijares was first appointed to oversee the Orange County Department of Education in August 2012 and ran unopposed in 2014 and 2018. Before becoming county superintendent, he worked for six years as the vice president of the College Board and served as superintendent of the Santa Ana Unified School District for more than 11 years. His new term, secured with 55 percent of the vote, will start in January 2023.

In separate contests for the OC Board of Education, Mari Barke was re-elected in District 2 with nearly 59 percent of the vote, and Lisa Sparks earned a second four-term in District 5 with about 65 percent of the vote. Their terms began July 1 and will continue through June 2026.

In District 4, Tim Shaw returned to his previously held seat after winning nearly 50 percent of the vote. His term continues through 2024.

Shaw had resigned from the board in November 2021 following a legal challenge over whether he could simultaneously serve on the La Habra City Council. The following month, he was reappointed after stepping down in La Habra. However, a judge ruled in April that he had to temporarily vacate the seat as a separate lawsuit challenged the appointment process.

Gomez steps down

In District 1, trustee Beckie Gomez was not up for re-election, but on June 15 she announced her decision to step down, effective July 1, following a similar legal challenge over whether she could concurrently serve on the Tustin City Council.

“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 goals.”

According to state Education Code 5091, when a vacancy occurs longer than four months before the end of a board member’s term, the board has 60 days to make a provisional appointment or order a special election. 

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, after Barke, Sparks and Shaw were sworn in, the four sitting board members announced plans to appoint a candidate at their Aug. 17 meeting to complete Gomez’s term, which ends in 2024. 

The California School Boards Association has put together a reference guide with additional details on the process.

Board responsibilities

The Orange County Board of Education is made up of five elected officials who each serve four-year terms. According to the board’s webpage, its responsibilities include:

  • Approving the annual budget of the Orange County Department of Education
  • Receiving the annual audit of the Orange County Department of Education
  • Maintaining an awareness of the operations and financial conditions of the school districts in the county
  • Approving the purchase of property for department programs
  • Serving as Orange County’s appeal board for the adjudication of expulsion appeals and interdistrict attendance appeals
  • Representing Orange County’s education community and families at the local, county, state and national levels
  • Informing local communities about the programs and achievements of the Orange County Department of Education