COSTA MESA — The Newport-Mesa Unified School District superintendent should act with dignity, treat everyone with respect and civility and serve as a model of the value of lifelong learning, according to the district's Superintendent Governance Standards.
District rules also mandate that employees shall not post, submit or publish anything that can be construed as harassment or disparagement of others based on race, religion, gender and so forth.
Depending on which school board member you talk to, Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard may or may not have violated one or both of these standards when he sent flirtatious e-mails filled with sexual innuendo to a former colleague in Beverly Hills through his Newport-Mesa Unified School District account.
"For me, I'm not interested in being the morality police," said school board member Martha Fluor. "These were consenting adults. Was it good judgment? That's for Dr. Hubbard to decide. I think he's already doing penance. He's apologized to the board, he's apologized to the world. And I've accepted his apology."
While many of the messages exchanged between Hubbard and former Beverly Hills school district facilities director Karen Anne Christiansen were sent when Hubbard was employed by the Beverly Hills Unified School District, their playful, sexually-charged banter continued after he came to Newport-Mesa in mid-2006.
In an April 2008 e-mail where Christiansen calls herself Hubbard's "beck and call girl," he replies "I love that … can you give me head (s up)."
"Who would've known that e-mails sent four or five years ago would be coming back to haunt you?" Fluor said.
School board member Katrina Foley, who works as an employment attorney, was less understanding.
"I am completely taken aback by that response," Foley said. 'I think we need to immediately conduct some HR training for our board members because clearly they don't have the type of training that's required."
"I've never sent an e-mail like that, never," she said. "I've never sent an e-mail like that to an employee. … If I was going to send that type of e-mail, you would never do that at work."
Fluor said the lines are blurred, and it's unclear what is inappropriate.
"Have I sent a few off-color jokes to friends and district employees?" she said. "Would that be deemed not being appropriate, not living up to the standard? Could be. Could be."
Fluor argued that being a school district superintendent is a 24-hour job, and it's unrealistic to expect parts of their private life to not cross into district hours.
"When you're off the dais, yes, you never take your hat off," she said. "But there's got to be a time where you can take your hair down. And that may be in the middle of the day."
"I don't think it interfered with his ability to conduct his duties," she added.
School board member Karen Yelsey also stood by Hubbard in a Forum piece published in Sunday's Daily Pilot.
Hubbard and Christiansen face criminal charges in Los Angeles County. Hubbard is charged with misappropriating funds for Christiansen, giving her an illegal $20,000 stipend and increasing her car allowance.
Christiansen is charged with multiple felonies of conflict of interest, all of which allegedly netted her more than $2 million through her own company that contracted with Beverly Hills Unified.
Hubbard is scheduled to be in Los Angeles on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. Both have pleaded not guilty.