School board fires Hubbard

COSTA MESA — The Newport-Mesa Unified school board announced after a special closed-session meeting Tuesday afternoon that it fired its superintendent after his conviction of two felonies.

School board President Dave Brooks said the board unanimously voted to terminate Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard effective Monday, when he was convicted in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"We are at an end of an era," Brooks said Tuesday evening, after the board's regular meeting. "His contract has been terminated, and soon we will be looking for a new superintendent."

Hubbard, 54, was found guilty of two charges of misappropriating public funds during his previous job as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District. He was acquitted of a third charge.

Hubbard did not attend the afternoon board meeting.

Deputy Supt. and Chief Business Official Paul Reed will act as superintendent until March 5, or until an interim leader can be found.

The board also authorized the search for both an interim and permanent superintendent, with the goal of hiring the permanent superintendent by July 1.

"I, probably like everyone else, I wish it never happened, but it did," said Trustee Judy Franco after the regular meeting. "But, like we've said for a year, he was entitled to his day in court."

Teachers union President Kimberly Claytor, as well as the union's Executive Director Nicholas Dix, were the only two community members in attendance at the special meeting.

Claytor said she wished the board had also addressed Hubbard's actions in the district — specifically sending inappropriate correspondence while using his school district email account and taking more than five months of paid leave to prepare for his defense.

"I guess I'm disappointed that they did not also address the issues that took place in our district," she said. "I think that needed to be included, but then again, I think that needed to be included before."

At the regular meeting, Newport Heights Elementary school parent Peter Boyd asked the board to look into employees hired during Hubbard's tenure after what happened in Beverly Hills and conduct a forensic audit of all Hubbard's actions.

"I am hopeful that you will closely begin examining the true legacy of Jeffrey Hubbard, the individual that you handed over complete control of the district to," Boyd said. "Frequently, we have heard statements that none of his alleged misdeeds happened while under the employ of [Newport-Mesa]. I, as a parent, property owner and voter, demand more than your empty words. Prove to me that is true."

Hubbard, who was making $305,920 annually, won't be eligible for severance, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

If the district had fired him without cause before he was convicted, Hubbard would have been entitled to 18 months of pay, Trustee Judy Franco said.

His pension with the California State Teachers' Retirement System won't be impacted by his criminal conviction, a spokesman for the system has said.

Hubbard, though, was fired just two days before turning 55, an age that would have made him eligible for a higher pension. He would have had to work until he was 60 to receive his full benefits.

The amount Hubbard will receive monthly will not be available until he applies for retirement.

Hubbard said Monday that he plans to appeal the convictions.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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