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Apodaca: School district needs to be upfront about Hubbard

January 07, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca
  • Patrice Apodaca
Patrice Apodaca (Daily Pilot )

EDITOR'S NOTE: Former Los Angeles Times staff writer Patrice Apodaca, a Newport Beach resident, has agreed to write a weekly column for the Daily Pilot. Her column will appear on Saturdays.

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This past holiday season provided me a few excruciating exercises in waiting.

I waited for my son to make it home for Christmas. A UCLA student who had been studying for a semester in Rome, he became stranded in London when bad weather resulted in a near shutdown of Heathrow Airport.

I waited for my dog's bowels to move after a mysterious solid object became lodged in his digestive track. As I studied the X-ray at the vet's office, I silently prayed to Father Christmas that it wasn't baby Jesus from our miniature nativity display stuck in my pooch's gut.

Now we're in the season of new beginnings and I find myself waiting again. I am waiting to see if there is any fallout on Newport-Mesa Unified School District from Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's legal problems.

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Hubbard, as Daily Pilot readers surely know, was charged last month with two counts of misappropriation of public funds while he was superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District. He has denied any wrongdoing, and has pleaded not guilty.

But my issue, at least for now, isn't with Hubbard, who is presumed innocent while he fights his legal battle. I am more interested in knowing whether the school board will be quick to act if there is any indication that Hubbard has become too distracted to do his job. And I hope those same officials will openly and forthrightly explain to parents how they plan to carry on the important business of educating students while the boss is busy defending himself.

Appearing genuinely gobsmacked by the news, district officials announced shortly after the felony complaint was filed Dec. 9 that the superintendent would take a "vacation" for the remainder of the year.

They remained tight-lipped; meeting behind closed doors a few days later, school board members said only that no reportable action was taken regarding Hubbard.

Paul Reed, deputy superintendent and chief business official for the district, temporarily took the reins until Tuesday, when Hubbard returned to work.

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