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Hubbard breaks his silence

In the first formal interview since his arrest, the former Newport-Mesa superintendent accuses D.A. of working with his old employer to undo him.

March 06, 2012|By Lauren Williams
(Steven Georges,…)

TUSTIN — On any other weekday last year, he would be wearing a suit and tie as he stood at the helm of Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

But on a recent morning there was no longer a need for formality. The former superintendent who once oversaw 31 schools and 3,000 employees is now unwillingly retired, having been fired by the school board shortly after his conviction on misappropriation of public funds.

So dressed in jeans and a beige button-down, Jeffrey Hubbard, 55, gives the first formal interview since his arrest between sips of a tall coffee at a bakery near his Tustin home.

He alternates from affable to agitated, fidgeting and gesturing passionately, as he addresses what he refers to as traumatic events that undid his career.

He makes it clear that he never broke any laws and paints himself as a victim of a vindictive previous employer, the Beverly Hills Unified School District, and overzealous prosecutors whom he believes willingly ignored key facts that would exonerate him.

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"The D.A. spun a conspiracy story that [the jury] believed," he says, adding later that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office was "clearly not interested in the truth."

Hubbard argues that the real problems started not with the Dist. Atty. but with BHUSD, which is where he worked until coming to Orange County.

He asserts that the BHUSD sought his prosecution as retribution for helping his co-defendant, Karen Anne Christiansen, 53, in the lawsuit she filed against the BHUSD.

She sued for breach of contract after the district fired her and he took her side, calling her termination one of the "cruelest episodes" he has seen in his career.

After that, he says, the BHUSD sought retribution against him for helping her. Christiansen would go on to be tried and convicted of four felony conflict-of-interest charges.

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Time in Beverly Hills

Reflecting on his tenure as Beverly Hills schools' chief, which concluded in 2006, Hubbard says he was more concerned with an environmental lawsuit filed by Erin Brockovich and allegations that a principal was placing English-language learners in the classrooms of poor-performing teachers than he ever was with matters as seemingly minor as Christiansen's expenses.

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