Ex-Superintendent Found Guilty of Misappropriation of Funds
Newport-Mesa schools Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard was convicted of two felony counts in a Los Angeles court on Monday, and on Tuesday he was fired by the district trustees.
The termination is effective as of Monday.
Hubbard, 54, was found guilty by jury in Los Angeles Superior Court for giving a $20,000 bonus to Karen Anne Christiansen, 53, former facilities director at Beverly Hills Unified School District, and raising her car allowance from $150 a month to $500, both without board approval.
Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman argued that emails between Hubbard and Christiansen suggested a “special relationship existed between the two,” according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Hubbard was acquitted on the third charge of giving an unauthorized pay raise to BHUSD co-worker Nora Roque, who now works at Newport-Mesa as director of classified personnel.
He faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing on Feb. 23. He is currently free on his own recognizance.
The Newport-Mesa school board held a closed meeting Tuesday afternoon and terminated Hubbard’s contract.
Hubbard has previously stated that if convicted he would appeal. He would lose his teaching and administrative credentials if the appeal fails.
Christiansen was convicted Nov. 21 of four counts of felony conflict of interest with one enhancement for taking more than $1.3 million through a building contract she steered to herself. She was sentenced Jan. 5 to four years and four months in state prison and tentatively ordered to pay the district just over $2 million. She is free on $400,000 bail and appealing the conviction.
The Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers recently gave Hubbard a no-confidence vote. Nearly 40 percent of NMFT members voted, with just over 91 percent of those stating they had no confidence in the superintendent.
That was not an accurate reading, board member Walt Davenport said, since the majority of teachers didn’t vote.
The school board voted 6-1 in January 2011 for Hubbard to go on a paid leave of absence while he focused on preparing for trial. Board member Katrina Foley was the dissenting vote.
Hubbard requested the paid administrative leave himself.
While the board didn’t specify how long Hubbard would be out, he returned to the job after more than five months on paid leave.
According to a district statement, there were no legal issues before the court that involve Hubbard as superintendent of Newport-Mesa school district.
Hubbard worked for Beverly Hills Unified School District from 2003 to 2006, just before coming to NMUSD.