[UPDATED with Firing Confirmed:] Jeffrey Hubbard, Newport-Mesa Schools Chief, Guilty of Misappropriating Funds

UPDATE, JAN. 24, 5:26 P.M.: The support Newport-Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard enjoyed from his Board of Education disappeared into the paneling separating trustees from the public barred from a secret meeting this afternoon.

In other words, the board voted unanimously to can Hubbard, who has been convicted on corruption charges in Los Angeles County and faces prison time. The district's short statement after the jump . . .

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 4:00 p.m., the N-MUSD Board of Education announced action taken during a special closed session meeting.

On a 7/0 vote, the Board of Education terminated the superintendent employment contract with Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard, effective Monday, January 23, 2012.

UPDATE, JAN. 24, 3:21 P.M.: The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees is apparently meeting in closed session right now to consider firing Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard, whose conviction on corruption charges in Los Angeles County has proven to be a major distraction. However, the local teachers association president suggests the trustees should look themselves in the mirror for granting Hubbard a paid, five-month leave of absence to prepare for his defense.

A press release issued Monday afternoon by Kimberly Claytor, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers AFT local 1794, follows:

Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers AFT 1794 Responds to Guilty Verdict of Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard

This afternoon, Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard, N-MUSD Superintendent, was found guilty by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury on two of three felony charges of misappropriation of public funds.

As educators, we are saddened by the impact that this case has had on the reputation of our district and the resources it has drained from our classrooms.

Though the felony charges stemmed from employment outside of Newport Mesa Unified School District, the email messages exchanged between Jeffrey Hubbard and Karen Christiansen, introduced as evidence in the case, revealed behavior unbecoming of a superintendent of a school district. Furthermore, the majority of our School Board members voted to grant Jeffrey Hubbard five months of paid leave to prepare for his defense-this money would have better served the public had it been spent in our classrooms.

We look forward to finding a new superintendent who respects processes put in place to protect the public trust, understands both the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa communities, and is willing to put the needs of our students first. We call on the School Board to have an open and transparent public process, with input from parents, teachers, and other community members in our search for a new superintendent. We want a School Board that is responsive and responsible to the community.

Below is the district statement:

Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard, N-MUSD Superintendent, has been found guilty on two of three felony misappropriation of public funds charges by the jury at his trial in Department 102 of the Los Angeles Superior Court. The charges all pertained to actions taken in his capacity as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District over six years ago.

There was no allegation of illegal activity during his tenure as Superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified School District, where he has been employed since 2006.

To avoid acting precipitously in regard to charges that had no connection with Newport-Mesa, and to observe Dr. Hubbard's legal right to be judged by a jury of his peers, the school board has refrained from action in the past year. At the same time steps were taken to assure that the school district would continue to move ahead while Dr. Hubbard's personal legal issues were brought to closure.

Board President Dave Brooks has called for an immediate closed session of the N-MUSD School Board in accordance with Brown Act requirements to review the Board's legal options regarding the superintendent's employment contract and next steps in light of the outcome in the case. The closed session will be scheduled as soon as possible and further announcements will be forthcoming.

ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 24, 12:53 P.M.: Newport-Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard is guilty of corruption charges that could put him in a prison cell for four years and strip him of his education credentials. A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury on Monday found the 54-year-old guilty of two felony counts of misappropriating public funds while he served as superintendent of schools in Beverly Hills. Hubbard was let off the hook for a third count involving a pay raise to an employee who later followed him to Newport-Mesa.

Hubbard had pleaded not guilty to misappropriating thousands of dollars in public funds, and his attorney had filed a motion arguing that some or all of the charges should be dismissed on grounds the statute of limitations had passed.

Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Police Department
Christiansen and Hubbard's booking photos.
Prosecutors alleged at trial that Hubbard paid fellow Beverly Hills administrator Karen Anne Christiansen a $20,000 stipend and provided her a car allowance without the school board's approval. Among the evidence that leaked even before the trail began were sexed-up emails between the two school officials and photos of Christiansen in a swimsuit that she sent to the school district attorney whose firm later renegotiated her contract. Hubbard later denied he'd been in a romantic relationship with Christiansen.

However, Christiansen was convicted in December of steering a building contract exceeding $1.3 million her own way while serving as the Beverly Hills school system's facilities director. She was sentenced earlier this month to fours years and four months in state prison on felony conflict of interest counts.

Prosecutors in LA County later filed a third count against Hubbard for a supposedly secret raise lavished on Nora Roque when she worked with him in Beverly Hills. Roque, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, now works at Newport-Mesa, where the majority of school board members have so far defended their superintendent.

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