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Editorial: Don't rush to convict — or exonerate — Hubbard

July 09, 2011

The presumption of innocence is one of the great values that separates this country from most others. That is why we believe it's wrong to jump to conclusions and convict Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard in these columns or anywhere else.

As journalists, we've also seen our fair share of bullet-proof prosecution cases result in swift exonerations. It happens all of the time. That's why they call it a "burden" of proof.

That said, we find it premature to declare Hubbard not guilty, and the charges against him trumped up, as one school board member did in a recent interview with the Daily Pilot. A good person stands behind their friends and colleagues, but there is a bigger issue here than either friendship or professional respect: the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

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An employer, particularly a government agency entrusted with taxpayer money and the care of its school-age children, needs to put the institution ahead of the individual.

For those who don't know, Hubbard is on trial for two felony counts of misappropriation of funds related to his last post as the Beverly Hills Unified superintendent. The Los Angeles County district attorney found enough evidence to convince a judge that the case should go forward next month.

Hubbard has declared his innocence. The school board, and everyone else, should declare their neutrality.

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