Schools chief pleads not guilty

Newport-Mesa Unified School District Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard on Monday pleaded not guilty to misappropriation of funds while at his previous job as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, officials said.

Hubbard was re-arraigned Monday after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Jan. 24 that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Hubbard previously entered a not-guilty plea on Jan. 3 to two felony charges of misappropriation of funds. The charges were filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

The 53-year-old schools chief is accused of misappropriating $20,000, without school board approval, to benefit former Beverly Hills Unified facilities director Karen Anne Christiansen while he was superintendent there. He is also charged with illegally increasing Christiansen's car allowance.

Christiansen has also pleaded not guilty in the case.

The same day it was decided Hubbard would stand trial, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board granted Hubbard's request to be put on paid administrative leave so he could spend more time on his legal defense.

"In his official written request to Board President Mr. Walt Davenport, Dr. Hubbard stated his reason for seeking a leave at this time was to act in the best interest of all parties," according to the news release. "He indicated that he will be dedicating his time and energy to his legal defense."

He started at N-MUSD in July 2006. Deputy Supt. Paul Reed is overseeing the district's day-to-day operations in the interim.

Hubbard is facing a maximum sentence of five years in state prison, if convicted on all charges.

He is scheduled to be back in court for a pre-trial conference Feb. 28.

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