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Another Huntington Beach school district removes committee member over her alleged ‘colored people’ comment

A Huntington Beach woman alleged to have referred to minorities as “colored people” in a YouTube video has been removed from a second school district committee, this time in the Huntington Beach City School District.

Gracey Larrea-Van Der Mark’s removal Tuesday from the district’s Measure Q Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee came a week after the Ocean View School District board voted to remove her from its Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure R.

Both committees oversee expenditures related to voter-approved bond measures for school facility improvements.

Huntington Beach City’s superintendent, Gregg Haulk, decided to remove Larrea-Van Der Mark after hearing concerns from parents and other community members, according to Jimmy Lambos, administrative assistant to the superintendent.

“Based on the allegations made against her, he didn’t want that to be a distraction to the district,” Lambos said Friday.

Lambos said the superintendent emailed Larrea-Van Der Mark to notify her of her removal.

He later said there was a misunderstanding and that Haulk did not contact her.

Larrea-Van Der Mark did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

She was assigned to the committee in 2016 by the Orange County Taxpayers Assn. Lambos said the district requested a replacement from the association because rules say a member of the association has to serve on the committee.

Larrea-Van Der Mark came under fire in April after she reportedly made the comment in a post with a video she uploaded to YouTube in 2017 showing protesters crashing an anti-racism workshop in Santa Monica by a group called Committee for Racial Justice.

According to the OC Weekly, Larrea-Van Der Mark wrote: “This meeting was being ran by the elderly Jewish people who were in there. The colored people were there doing what the elderly Jewish people instructed them to do.”

Since the allegations, community members and Ocean View School District leaders had called for Larrea-Van Der Mark’s removal from that district’s bond oversight committee and the city of Huntington Beach’s Finance Commission.

City Councilman Patrick Brenden, who appointed Larrea-Van Der Mark to the Finance Commission in 2017, said last month that he would investigate the allegations after he received pressure from residents, school board members and the Anti-Defamation League.

The Ocean View board removed Larrea-Van Der Mark from its bond committee on a 4-1 vote last week after trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin, who appointed her last year, called for her removal, saying the “colored people” comment promotes bigotry and does not reflect the school district.

Larrea-Van Der Mark’s online activity has received heightened attention since she spoke in support of Huntington Beach’s plan to file a lawsuit against California to challenge the legality of state mandates that expand protections for undocumented immigrants.

The OC Weekly reported on the “colored people” comment days after the City Council approved the lawsuit early last month.

Priscella.Vega@latimes.com

Twitter: @vegapriscella


UPDATES:

2:35 p.m. May 10: This article was updated with additional information from Jimmy Lambos.

This article was originally published at 5:50 p.m. May 4.


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