Hubbard sent suggestive e-mails during previous job

Media reports about a series of e-mails laced with sexual innuendo between the superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and a former subordinate in his last position in Beverly Hills did not raise eyebrows among local school board members.

“I take it with a grain of salt,” said Martha Fluor, a Newport-Mesa Board of Education member. “They are consenting adults.”

Newport-Mesa Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard exchanged suggestive e-mails with a former employee in the Beverly Hills Unified School District, where Hubbard was schools chief prior to coming to Newport-Mesa. The pair, who are accused of felonies by Los Angeles County prosecutors, apparently used their school district e-mail accounts to trade messages.

In e-mail excerpts first reported by the Orange County Register, records show that Hubbard and Karen Anne Christiansen, the former facilities director for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, bantered back and forth with one another flirtatiously with sexual undertones through official district channels.

According to the Register report, Hubbard and Christiansen traded the e-mails while he was superintendent of the Beverly Hills district, then after he had moved on to his new job as superintendent of Newport-Mesa schools.

Hubbard and Christiansen are charged in Los Angeles County with various felonies related to their employment with Beverly Hills.

Christiansen faces the more serious charges, including conflict of interest and misappropriation of funds that allegedly netted her $2.2 million. Prosecutors have accused Hubbard of two counts of misusing public funds by allegedly giving Christiansen an illegal $20,000 stipend and improperly increasing her monthly car allowance.

In December, when news about the charges against the superintendent broke, Hubbard told a Daily Pilot reporter that he had known Christiansen for three years but that they didn’t have a relationship outside work.

On Wednesday he and his attorney did not return calls for comment. Hubbard also left Tuesday’s school board meeting before a Pilot reporter had a chance to interview him.

In his e-mails dating back to as early as 2005, Hubbard’s last year with Beverly Hills, he called Christiansen “sweetheart,” “hottie” and said “I love you” and “I adore you,” according to media reports.

“To be real honest, he has e-mailed me and said, ‘love ya’ and ‘sweetheart’ and ‘hang in there,’ and ‘Thanks, babe,’” Fluor said. “So, you know, he’s a very affectionate person and expresses himself and does say some witty things, and that’s the type of relationship when you’re working with a superintendent. You develop a bond of trust and closeness that’s not necessarily sexual.”

But there were also sexual references in the e-mails to Christiansen.

The double entendres, reported by the Register, between Hubbard and Christiansen increased when Hubbard came to Newport-Mesa.

In an April 2008 e-mail, Christiansen called herself Hubbard’s beck-and-call girl, to which he replied “I love that … you can give me head (s up).”

In a 2006 e-mail, he wrote, “You had your chance and you blew it (or didn’t blow it … as the case may be.)”

“The bottom line is they are consenting adults,” Fluor said of the e-mails. “If they were talking about anything else involving children and non-consenting, I would be appalled, concerned, that this merits some more discussion at the board level.”

One exchange, according to the Register, reveals that Christiansen was mad at Hubbard because of an apparent insensitive reply e-mail he had sent her.

In the Sept. 29, 2005, exchange, Christiansen asks for time off because her mother died and Hubbard replies “whatever.” He apologized repeatedly after she responded with “Nice sympathetic response!!!! I’m grieving for god sake.”

Hubbard is accused of giving her the $20,000 stipend that day.

Newport-Mesa school board member Karen Yelsey said she doesn’t see any reason to take action against Hubbard, who remains on the job.

“I don’t think they reveal anything to do with this particular case,” she said. “I think it’s so much sensationalism that people like to read this one.”

“I don’t think it affects his work in Newport-Mesa,” she added. “I think whatever this whole issue is in Beverly Hills, it’s a Beverly Hills issue.”

Hubbard and Christiansen have pleaded not guilty in their cases. Hubbard is due back in a Los Angeles County court Tuesday for his preliminary hearing.