High School Teacher Arrested for Hate Crimes

By Josh Richman

Published June 30, 2006, issue of June 30, 2006.
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OAKLAND — A Fresno, Calif., high school teacher has been charged with a hate crime more than a year after she allegedly pushed a Jewish woman to the ground, pulled her hair, kicked her and told her, “You should have burned in the oven with the rest of the Jews.”

Donna Jean Hubbard, 45, was arrested on a weapons charge with a gang-affiliation allegation June 1 in front of students at Duncan Polytechnic High School. About a week later, assault and hate crime counts were filed against her.

She is free on $10,000 bail, pending her July 5 return to Madera County Superior Court.

The April 2005 incident in an Oakhurst, Calif., bank parking lot apparently stemmed from an encounter between Hubbard’s daughter and the Jewish woman’s daughter several days earlier at the girls’ school. Hubbard’s daughter is reported to have verbally assailed the woman’s daughter for wearing a Star of David.

Police served a search warrant on Hubbard at the rural Coarsegold, Calif., home she shares with her husband, Bobby Dean Hubbard, and their two children on Friday, May 26, as the family prepared to host Aryan Unity Fest ’06 that weekend on their five-acre property. About 70 people attended the gathering.

Police found Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist paraphernalia in the Hubbards’ home, as well as an assault rifle, a shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle. Already on probation for terroristic threats and spousal abuse, Bobby Dean Hubbard was arrested and is still in jail. He allegedly violated his probation by possessing firearms.

Donna Hubbard’s attorney, Katherine Hart, told the Forward that so far her client has pleaded not guilty to a charge that she possessed a weapon — a pair of nunchucks, an Asian martial arts weapon composed of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope — and that she aided and abetted gang activity.

Hart said she’s not convinced that a white supremacist affiliation qualifies as gang activity under California law, which defines a gang as having as its primary aim the commission of crimes.

“There are First Amendment implications to this,” Hart said. “And from what I’ve been able to derive from my client, there are members of her family who have some sort of white supremacist viewpoints but she herself does not harbor those.”

Days after her weapons arrest, Donna Hubbard also was charged with assault and with a hate crime count for the April 2005 altercation with the Jewish woman, Dani Harper.

Harper could not be reached by the Forward for comment, but she told a local television station that the Hubbards are “dangerous.”

“Obviously,” Harper said, “if [the police] found that many guns in the their house, and that much hatred, they’re dangerous.”

“My client denies having made the racist and antisemitic statements that she is charged with having made,” Hart said, declining to comment further until her client is formally arraigned on those counts.

On June 1, the school year’s penultimate day, Madera County Gang Task Force officers asked Hubbard, who has taught health at public high school Duncan Polytechnic for three years, to step out of her classroom. They then arrested her on the weapons charge.

The Fresno Bee newspaper reported that her students were shocked and that some were in tears; one told the newspaper that Hubbard “loves everyone and treats everyone the same.” The newspaper apparently was tipped off to the impending arrest: A photograph of the handcuffed Hubbard being led from the school appeared in the Bee’s June 2 edition.

Hart said that arresting Hubbard at the school “was a gross misuse of police power. She is a teacher in good standing; she has no prior criminal history. It was a huge show of power and force.… It needn’t have been that way.”

Fresno Unified School District spokeswoman Susan Bedi said that Hubbard “is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.” Asked whether the hate crime case is unusual to the district, she replied that “to my knowledge” — in 30 years — “I’ve never encountered a case like this.”

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