Witness: Raise required school board approval

LOS ANGELES — An employee who worked with Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard in Beverly Hills testified Tuesday that it would have been nearly impossible for Hubbard to give her an illegal pay raise, as prosecutors assert, without school board approval.

Nora Roque told jurors that the checks and balances in place when she and Hubbard were employed by the Beverly Hills Unified School District would have required school board consent before she was given a raise.

Prosecutors allege that Hubbard signed off on a pay raise for Roque, who now works as the director of classified personnel at Newport-Mesa Unified, without the legally required permission from the board.

Hubbard, 54, now superintendent in Newport-Mesa Unified, is facing three felony counts in Los Angeles County Superior Court of misappropriating public funds stemming from allegations that he gave Roque an illegal salary increase totaling about $20,000, and gave illegal bonuses to former district Facilities Director Karen Anne Christiansen.

Hubbard has pleaded not guilty. Roque, a witness, has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Christiansen has since been convicted of felony conflict-of-interest charges and sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

At the time of her employment in Beverly Hills, Roque worked in the district's human resources department. After two years without a promised increase, Roque testified that she was instructed by Hubbard and JudyAnn Allen-Mendez, a former assistant superintendent, to make changes to the salary schedule.

The changes to the salary schedule included modifications to her own salary, and the changes were reviewed by supervisors, she said.

As of May 2005 she began receiving about $100 more each month, she said.

Prosecutor Max Huntsman asked Roque why a memo directing payroll to modify her salary was in a Microsoft Word document on her computer. He also questioned whether other memos directing payroll to make changes were a frequent occurrence.

"I couldn't even guess" how often memos of that nature were sent to payroll, Roque said. "I know we received memos asking for board action … to sign off."

Procedure mandated that the memo be reviewed and any action be placed on the board transmittal by the assistant superintendent's office, Roque said.

She also denied typing Hubbard's dissertation, but said she had a copy of the document on her computer because she was helping him with a text box.

But Huntsman questioned whether Hubbard would have been ignorant of school board decisions because of his frequent contact with the trustees.

"Is there anybody in a better situation in the district to know what was approved and what isn't?" Huntsman asked.

Roque responded that department heads would be more familiar with decisions that directly affect their personnel.

Another witness is expected to testify Wednesday. It is still undecided whether Hubbard will take the stand.


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