Aug. 23, 2022

CUSD School Board Meeting

[ Union Public Comments * RE: Several Topics. ]


Greetings District Employees, Families, and Stakeholders,

Once again, Union Leadership provided the CUSD School Board much to consider at the Aug. 23, 2022, school board meeting.   Via this ADVISORY, we’d like to share access to the variety of important issues impacting District employees, their students, families, and the teaching & learning environment.

Since last Tuesday’s Board Meeting, Union leadership has appreciated the positive feedback we’ve received from District employees, families, Board Candidates, and even a group of recent alumni. : )  We are always ready to share the experience of District employees with our neighbors and members of the community.  So keep those personal email addresses coming!

For your convenience, we’ve provided a link to the Aug. 24, 2022, School Board Meeting, just below:

We have also provided the specific AGENDA Item, a summary of our message, and the MINUTE (in the video) where you will find the Union’s public comment:

 C.5 – Approval of Minutes 

For those who are unaware, District leadership quietly provided themselves  a 5% salary increase AND a 2% bonus, while the majority of the community and District personnel were distracted with Summer activities.

Meanwhile, District leadership has only budgeted, postured, and prepared to offer District employees a mere 1% salary increase, along with potential healthcare cuts, caps, and/or claw-backs.


All this, while the cost of living regionally has increased by approximately 15% regionally.

 [ see MINUTE –  06:08 ]

  1. Consent Agenda

In the CONSENT AGENDA, the District considers the expenditure of public monies on a variety of topics. Union leadership asks the School Board to explain how they have reconciled their decision to squander $2,000,000 of public tax-payer monies to continue pursuing and supporting retaliatory attacks against Union leaders and District personnel who simply wish to support and participate in their employee union?  With so many important programs to run and resources yet to provide our students and teachers in the teaching and learning environment, how does District leadership justify this EXTRAORDINARY expenditure and behavior?


Although Union leadership understands the Superintendent’s desire to avoid further accountability for the illegal actions of senior management and those Board Members serving during the Spring of 2022, this is not the way to go about it an effective resolution.


Ironically, in attempting to avoid accountability by forcing the Union to take the District to court, District leadership actually managed to confirm their own legal liability in the process.  During recent months, in no less than 4 different occasions, CUSD was held liable and required to resolve a variety of contract violations and unfair labor practices based on the illegal behavior of District Principals (CMS Principal Lisa O’Shea & Canalino Principal Jamie Persoon), District Directors and Supervisors (Human Resource Director Diana, Zapata, Maint. Supervisor Jim Petit, and the Assistant Superintendent, Maureen Fitzgerald), and the CUSD Superintendent (Diane Rigby).  All this, supported and paid for under the watch of a group-think School Board !

 [ see MINUTE –  09:54 ]

  1. Public Interest / Reports / Presentations 
  1. Superintendent’s Report
  2. Public Commenton Items Not on This Agenda


Given the Summer myth making engaged in by District leadership, CAUSE leadership was compelled to clarify upon CUSD’s misinformation associated with the ongoing 2022-23 collective bargaining process.


Early in the Summer of 2022, ( actually, June 24, 2022 ), Union Leadership recognized and publicly shared that the District may need (and was permitted) to take uni-lateral action on a variety of calendar decisions, including:


a.) determining & announcing the start date of the 2022-23 instructional year


b.) determining & announcing the end date of the 2022-23 instructional year, and…


c.) initiating the State mandated changes to the CHS daily start times.


Union leadership, District employees, and members of the community, primarily District families, had hoped that the District would provide much needed clarity upon the details (a, b, and c) above.   But even though the District had the privilege and opportunity to do so, District leadership instead held-hostage the community’s interests and CUSD families ability to plan around the start of the school year.

Although the Union can’t take responsibility for the District’s decision to maintain and promote the very confusion they were entitled to resolve, CAUSE did not miss another opportunity to object to CUSD’s Summer misinformation campaign or District leadership’s attempts to blame the Union for the very confusion the Superintendent and School Board chose to preserve until just days before the school year began.


 [ see MINUTE –  28:56 ]

  1. Measure U – Infrastructure Bond

The Union recognizes the mixed bag of performance in this area.  We recognize that completed projects create a cleaner and safer atmosphere for students, faculty, support staff and site-administrators serving the teaching and learning environment.   Employees appreciate the relief provided by these upgrades, and appreciate the support of the community members of Carpinteria who have contributed a significant sum of their personal fortunes to fund the MEASURE U project.


That said, after significant errors were exposed in the Spring of this year, amounting to…

(a) several $100,000 in overruns

(b) the delays associated with several projects

(c) the flubbing of documents provided to the community

(d) that as a result of said overruns, announcements that certain projects promised to the community will not be either initiated or completed

… leaves the Union concerned.


Although the oversight of such a fund and development is not in the wheelhouse of our Union leadership team, we will continue to do our best to monitor these expenses and the impact of said expenses.


Similarly, and in light of the District’s decision to remove the very fund experts and technological tools previously employed to successfully manage the MEASURE U fund before these massive overruns were caused, Union leadership  also asks those members of the community (who may hold expertise in the area of public infrastructure and development) to monitor these matters for the good of CUSD’s students, employees, their families, and the broader community.


 [ see MINUTE –  43:50 ]

  1. Personnel Summary

CAUSE leadership believes that at first glance, the personnel numbers speak for themselves; and clarify that there continues to be EXTREME employee transiency occurring across the CUSD.


Since the arrival of the current Superintendent and Human Resource Director, the District has struggled to recruit, hire, and maintain talent across the District.   Although the COVID pandemic aggravated this condition, it was well in place before COVID-19 was even a thing.  Unfortunately, given the current administrative capacity and orientation to such issues, it appears that this condition will continue to impact the District well beyond that which is routine for a K-12 District of either our size or in our location.


The District was recently bragging about “the amazing job done filling openings for the 2022-23 school year,”  citing claims and applause associated with a 25% turnover in District staffing.


But what appears clearly missed in all that self-congratulation is that all these openings, or at least the vast majority, are the result of otherwise competent and experienced employees who chose to leave the District on their own accord.   Most often, due to negative and unprofessional experiences they endured at the hands of District administrators, not students, not families, and not their professional colleagues.

Had the District conducted routine EXIT INTERVIEWS, the CUSD would have data to share on why these employees left.  However, it doesn’t; even after successive months of Union leadership requesting that the CUSD develop and initiate consistent EXIT INTERVIEWS of departing employees.


Although District leadership, during the 2nd May (2022) Board meeting, was embarrassed enough to claim that EXIT INTERVIEWS do exist and that the process is being utilized, those statements have been confirmed to be inaccurate and beyond over-inflated; at best.


The Union had been pleased to learn that the District was moving to develop a consistent EXIT INTERVIEW process, but when we sought information, now months ago, regarding how that process officially worked, the District failed to respond or even acknowledge our request.  Union leadership does not believe this is a coincidence; not just because we know, all too well, the District agents that made such claims.  After checking on several recently departing employees, CAUSE has been unable to find any employees who participated or were even offered an opportunity to participate in such a process.


Although we understand why Senior management and the school Board does not want to collect data that would confirm the plethora of concerning employee experiences shared under Superintendent Rigby’s direction; deceiving the community on this topic and leaders burying their heads in the sand will not resolve the conditions continuing to cause this extreme flight from the District.


 [ see MINUTE –  54:34 ]

  1. Future Agenda Items


At the 2nd Board meeting in May, 2022, both community members and Union leadership used public speaking minutes to share comments with the community and School Board.   While doing so, members of the School Board not only over-talked speakers during their delivery of public comments, but also engaged in strongly opinionated and misinformed statements during the very limited speaker time.

This behavior was a breach of your authority, and the Union asks that you cease and desist this behavior in the future.  Board members have an opportunity to comment during the period of item discussion, but not to drown out the voices that either agitate them or that they disagree with.   And most certainly, Board members do not have the opportunity to obstruct and rob public speakers of their already shortened “3 minute opportunity” to comment on a given agenda item.


Union understands that several Board Members struggle to hear that which they and Senior District leadership have been so diligently struggling to hide behind their ability to control the message at these Board Meetings.  But, everyone must play by the rules, even CUSD School Board members and administrators.


With the above in mind, Union leadership once again requests a thorough review of the boundaries associated with School Board member communications, either at these events, in private, or other public venues. We believe that such a review will inform all interested parties about their opportunity to participate in District business, and what realistic expectations they may anticipate in regard to their conversation with our elected School Board politicians.


 [ see MINUTE –  1:03:35 ]

As shared with the District and the community, Union leadership remains available to discuss these matters further.  We invite District leadership, school Board candidates, District employees, and members of the community to contact us with that purpose in mind.

In Unity,

~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President


* C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *