Department Chair & Grade Level Chair Selection


District Department Chair (secondary

& Grade Level (elementary) Elections:

A contractual selection process is required.



Greetings, CUSD Faculty,


CAUSE Leadership has received inquiries on the selection process for CUSD Department Chairs (secondary) & Grade Level Chairs (elementary). These Department Chair / Grade Level Chair positions are critical to the functional operations of the teaching and learning environment.  Department Chair / Grade Level Chair positions and expectations are protected in our collective bargaining agreement.  These Chairs serve as faculty diplomats; working in coordination with our District administrators.

CUSD Department Chairs (secondary) & Grade Level Chairs (elementary):

* represent the interests of their department and/or grade level faculty colleagues

* clarify professional experiences, insights, concerns, questions, etc.

* transparently share the impact of administrative decisions on the teaching and learning environment

As grade levels (elementary) and departments (secondary) work to formalize their internal leadership positions through Spring of 2024, CAUSE Leadership reminds District faculty and administrators that the ONLY processes governing Department Chair & Grade Level Chair selection are set forth in the Certificated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CERTIFICATED – CBA) * Article 6: Compensation & Benefits (see attached).

At this time, as the Union works to update the CBA itself, we have provided the relevant contract language that clarifies the unique selection process for either Grade Level Chairs (elementary) or Department Chairs (secondary):

Elementary Grade Level Chairs:

6.9.2 * Grade Level Chairs (K-5, 1 per grade) shall receive 6 RLs. Every spring an invitation to apply for elementary Grade Level Chairs for the following year will be sent to elementary. Chairperson decisions will be announced before the end of the school year.


Secondary (CMS / CHS /Rincon) Department Chairs:

6.9.3 * Department Chairperson Selection Process: A department chairperson shall be biennially nominated in writing at the March department meeting or at any time following the regular February department meeting and before the regular March department meeting. The election shall be at the regular March or April department meeting. Except as set out in the Education Code, the term of the department chair shall be two years. The vote to select the chairperson shall be weighted by the number of periods taught in that department by each employee who works in the department. Each person shall be allotted one vote for each period he or she teaches in the department.

For Secondary faculty: In any Department where the current Chair has either…

(A) completed the second year of service since being elected


(B) was not elected by their peers according to the contractual processes cited above

Department Chairs & Grade Level Chairs are required to resolve the contractual selection process for their positions to be valid. Upon completion of the selection process, whether your department is maintaining its current elected leadership or experiencing turnover based on Spring 2024 elections, please make sure to notify your current site-principals and Union Leadership of the outcomes associated with elected Department Chairs & Grade Level Chairs for the 2024-2025 school year.

Moving forward, please feel free to contact Union leadership with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

In Unity,


~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President


C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *

23-24 CLASSIFIED Bargaining Continues
No NEW agreements have been reached, but…
CLASSIFIED Employees & Colleagues,
     There seems to be some confusion about yesterday’s (April 4, 2024) bargaining session.   Union Leadership would like to clarify where we’re at in the 2023-24 bargaining cycle.
The 2023-24 CLASSIFIED Negotiation Cycle is NOT Over.
No NEW agreements have been reached.
 *  Thus far, the Union has submitted two formal proposals…
          1.)  Article 14: SAFETY
           2.)  A portion [focused on much needed improvements for CUSD’s Special Education program] of our Article 6: Compensation & Benefits proposal.
[CAUSE has not submitted a comprehensive proposal on, Article 6: Compensation & Benefits.]
*   The Union has also submitted questions and sought information relevant to our financial discussions.
*   The Union has received the District’s only proposal on Compensation & Benefits.
No new agreements have been reached during this bargaining cycle.  CLASSIFIED negotiations continue, and CAUSE Leadership is relying on the engagement and direct participation of District employees to clarify our interests to District Leadership.
We have updated the CLASSIFIED Collective Bargaining Agreement [i.e. CLASSIFIED – CBA].
After 6 years have passed, CUSD has finally added all our previous agreements to the CLASSIFIED CBA.
The CBA, which defines the professional relationship between employees and the District, has finally been updated.  Since the arrival of Superintendent Rigby & Human Resource Director Zapata, the District has failed to properly include each successive year’s agreements, and in some cases, not included portions of agreements at all.  This had led to great confusion for any party trying to understand the CLASSIFIED CBA: employees, administrators, Board members, arbitrators, judges, etc.
But as of yesterday, this has been fixed!
    Before the update, the District had:
* failed to include hard fought agreements  (that often pertaining to employee compensation)
* had removed other hard earned agreements (that minimized the role of CAUSE)
* had added language that the Union never agreed to  (and would not ever agree to)
* had embedded information where it did not belong; making it difficult to find important information (such as the Safety Article)
    Now that the contract has been updated:
*  It is much more reliable and user friendly.
* Information can be easily found using the PDF search function.
* It includes all relevant contract agreements.
* All the mystery language, added without our approval, has been removed.
* All the mysteriously removed language, without our approval, has been returned.
* It is clearly titled with the correct year, 2022-23.
* It contains an accurate CLASSIFIED SALARY SCHEDULE.

ALL CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES are strongly encouraged to download this now current version (2023-24), and maintain a copy for quick reference.

Please extend your appreciation and support to the rest of the Union’s, 2023-24 * CAUSE Collective Bargaining Team: Gina Marchand, Felicity Moore, Sarah Rochlitzer, & Kassi Hawkins.   Their tireless effort and enduring commitment to their colleagues has made all the difference.  I personally appreciate the challenges they have accepted while demanding the contract be updated and continuing to carry employee interests to the negotiating table.
In Unity,
~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President

CAUSE – SAFETY Proposals for the 23-24 School Year

The following are links to  the SAFETY improvements that CAUSE has been encouraging, in hopes of improving the CUSD’s faltering SAFETY conditions.


1.) a summary of several recommended improvements:

Historic SAFETY Initiatives copy


2.) More details: the 23-24 CERTIFICATED Bargaining Proposal

CERTIFICATED CAUSE (Counter Proposal ) ARTICLE 15 SAFETY. 2023-24


3.) More details: The 23-24 CLASSIFIED Bargaining Proposal

CLASSIFIED CAUSE (Counter Proposal ) ARTICLE 14 SAFETY . 2023-24


​CUSD School Board Passes LAYOFF Resolution
[ Without A Single Board Study Session ]
Union Leadership Responds

At the Tuesday, March 12, 2024 CUSD Board meeting, the School Board voted 5-0 to LAYOFF several CLASSIFIED employees, and did not even inquire about the 8-10 teachers being non-reelected, as a result of CUSD’s effort to avoid the LAYOFF process.  After a clear procedural error exposed the District’s intent to pass the LAYOFF Resolution without even listening to the Union’s perspective and insights first (see MINUTE: 3:29:15), the District scrambled to improve the optics.

In the end, CUSD’s effort to adjust the order of District business didn’t change a thing.  The Board had already arrived, prepared to rubber stamp the Superintendent’s recommendation, just as they do on all other matters.

Nonetheless, Union Leadership attempted to advocate for these approximately 13-15 employees and the students who will be harmed by these LAYOFFS and Non-Reelections.  We did so by sharing several reasons why LAYOFFS and Non-Reelections are absolutely unnecessary at this time.  If you’re interested in listening to our complete comments, you will find them at MINUTE: 3:30:25 of last night’s Board meeting video…




C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *

CAUSE Leadership Endorses ROY LEE 
for SB County District 1 Supervisor
How can you help support Roy ?
CUSD Teachers, Support Staff, Families, and Community Members,
     Union Leadership is pleased to announce its endorsement for Roy Lee, candidate for SB District 1 Supervisor.
Some of you may know Roy and his wife as parents of CUSD students. Others may know Roy as a private businessman and owner of Uncle Chen’s restaurant.  You may know Roy as the Carpinteria City Councilman who worked to improve student safety by pushing for the new traffic light adjacent Carpinteria Middle School and advocating for our Community Resource Officer; who coincidentally (just yesterday) apprehended two students in possession of a handgun outside the CHS campus.   However you know Roy, the CAUSE EBOARD believes you will agree; his commitment to the betterment of the CUSD is both sincere and on target
     [ And let’s be clear, that’s much more than you can say about the incumbent, Das Williams.  Das has generally ignored District issues for the majority of his 20 years as a career politician; except of course when he worked with CUSD Superintendent Rigby and the marijuana industry to circumvent boundary and health issues around District campuses.]
To better understand Roy’s vision, check out his website & NEWSMAKERS interview:
For those interested in directly supporting his campaign, you may volunteer here:
[ Roy’s campaign team will be emailing people weekly for canvassing and phone bank opportunities. ]
Finally, come meet and speak with Roy in person:
* Sat. February 10th – 10:00 AM @ at Uncle Chen’s Restaurant, in Carpinteria
* Sat. February 17th – 10:00 AM at the Rose Garden in Santa Barbara, by the Mission Santa Barbara.
If you’d like to place a yard sign on your property, please let us know.  The Union is assisting with the delivery of these signs to those willing to display their support.

CFT Releases Public Advisory

CFT: A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals
For Immediate Release
January 17, 2023
Contact: Maya Polon, (818) 288-6231

CFT to Carpinteria USD: Reinstate Jay Hotchner Immediately

Legal panel found district was unwarranted in termination

of local teacher and union leader 

CARPINTERIA, CA – Today, CFT joins the Carpinteria Association of United School Employees in calling for the union’s president, Jay Hotchner, to be reinstated as an employee of Carpinteria Unified School District (CUSD) following a ruling by the Commission on Professional Competence that the dismissal of Mr. Hotchner was not warranted.

In a recent ruling, a panel convened by the Commission found that the CUSD unfairly and illegally placed Mr. Hotchner on unpaid administrative leave for the last two years. Through the panel, the Commission has directed the CUSD to reinstate Mr. Hotchner and make him whole for any damages he has suffered. The district is also required to cover all of Mr. Hotchner’s legal fees, which the union assisted in paying, as well as a portion of the court’s costs. The decision by the three-member panel (made up of an administrative law judge from the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, and two certificated persons employed by other school districts – one chosen by Mr. Hotchner and one by CUSD) was unanimous.

The district has spent, to date, an estimated $2,500,000 in public funds in an effort to discredit and malign Mr. Hotchner’s efficacy, with the ultimate goal of destroying the Union and removing local educators’ collective voice.

“The astronomical amount of public dollars and district staff time spent attacking an educator who has repeatedly been found innocent of these baseless claims is absolutely abhorrent,” said Jeff Freitas, President of CFT. “Having begun my career as a high school math teacher in this district and having found my role as a leader in my local union in Carpinteria, I know how this waste of resources and distraction is a disservice to students. Following the commission’s ruling that Jay Hotchner must be reinstated as an educator in the district, CUSD must not further delay his return to the classroom. This is ultimately a publicly funded attack on school workers that must end.”

This is not the first time union leadership has been attacked and maligned by district leadership. In 2021, the Public Employees Relations Board found the district was guilty of “retaliation” and “discrimination” against Mr. Hotchner. Even under appeal, that decision was upheld, and the district was ordered to “cease and desist” engaging in said behavior. This, however, has not deterred the district from its smear campaign.


CFT – A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals represents 120,000 teachers, faculty, and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT. More information at

OPEN LETTER: * Court Reaches Decision * CUSD ordered to Reinstate Union [CAUSE] President, Jay Hotchner *



[ CAUSE – OPEN LETTER * Court Reaches Decision * CUSD ordered to Reinstate Union [CAUSE] President ]



Dear CUSD Faculty, Support Staff, Parents, and Community Partners,

The court has ruled.

In summary, the Union wins another important legal battle.  Carpinteria Unified School District [hereafter CUSD] is required to reinstate employee Union President, Jay Hotchner !

Employee Union Leadership is pleased to announce the decision from the Commission on Professional Competence.  After being unfairly and illegally placed on unpaid administrative leave for the last two school years, the Commission has fully reversed the District’s actions and directed the CUSD to make our CAUSE President, Mr. Hotchner, whole.

Some details that stand out:

* Even though the District was only required to meet the legal standard of a “preponderance of evidence,” the District did not provide sufficient evidence to justify its actions.  The Commission found the dismissal not warranted.

* The decision by the three-member Commission (made up of an administrative law judge from the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, and two certificated persons employed by other school districts; one chosen by Mr. Hotchner and one by CUSD) was unanimous.

* Although the District charged and continues to publicly make unfounded accusations of salacious and immoral conduct by Mr. Hotchner, the Commission determined that CUSD did not establish that Mr. Hotchner’s actions were indecent or immoral; finding that there was no improper motive for Mr. Hotchner’s behavior.

* Although the District charged and continues to publicly make unfounded accusations of dishonest conduct by Mr. Hotchner, the Commission determined that CUSD did not establish that Mr. Hotchner engaged in acts of dishonesty.

* The Commission determined that dismissal is not warranted, because the District failed to establish that Mr. Hotchner is unfit to teach.

* The Commission ordered, “The Statement of Charges against Respondent John Hotchner is hereby dismissed, and he shall not be terminated as a permanent certificated employee of Carpinteria Unified School District.”

* After already spending approximately $2,500,000 to discredit and malign Mr. Hotchner’s performance and efficacy (i.e. monies that could and should have been spent on students and District families), the CUSD is now:

1. Required to compensate Mr. Hotchner for all lost wages, lost leave, STRS contributions, and monies spent as a result of denying his access to healthcare, with interest.

2. Required to reimburse all Mr. Hotchner’s legal fees, which the Union has been paying, at market rate.

3. Responsible for the costs of the 20 days of hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge.


How does the decision protect District employees, students, and families?

This is not the first time Union Leadership has been attacked and maligned by current District Leadership (Case No. LA-CE-6522-E PERB Decision No. 2797 – November 16, 2021).  In 2021, the District was found guilty of “retaliation” & “discrimination” against Mr. Hotchner.  Even under appeal, that decision was upheld, and the District was ordered to “cease & desist” engaging in said behavior.

To be clear, the Union understands the District’s more recent action to remove Mr. Hotchner as further retaliation against Union Leadership; primarily for Mr. Hotchner’s advocacy on the behalf of District employees and the families they serve.  The District is likely well aware that such actions send waves of concern, fear, confusion, misinformation, and incendiary rumors around both the District and our small community.  It is not difficult to understand how the District’s attacks on Union Leadership could clearly limit the voice, participation, and rights of employees, or how the District’s attacks silence District employees and community members who wish to contribute their professional and/or families’ experiences, insights, concerns, and suggestions.

Fortunately, the Commission’s decision further protects the rights and opportunities of CUSD employees and District families to fully participate and have influence on critical decision-making processes in the District.


Moving forward.

The Union is awaiting the District’s decision as to whether they will spend even more of the public’s money on an appeal.   Meanwhile, Union Leadership will continue to coordinate the high-quality advocacy we were elected to provide District employees; advocacy we are known for delivering and our members have come to rely upon.

We wish to express our appreciation to our colleagues, counsel, family & community members, the leadership of both the California Federations of Teachers [CFT] & the American Federation of Teachers [AFT], and others who supported Union Leadership throughout this process.  Your trust and confidence remain of enormous value.

If Union leadership can be of any support to you, regarding workplace conditions, workplace environment, contractual matters of any kind, and/or issues of employee or student health & safety, you are welcome to contact us directly: .


~ CAUSE Executive Board



C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *

Where’s “COACH”?


Where’s “COACH”?

The Resignation of a Talented & Professional CUSD Colleague.



CMS Colleagues,

Many have been asking the same question, “Where’s, Coach?

Unfortunately, Rene Carranco, affectionately known to students and colleagues as, “Coach,” no longer works with the CUSD.  His resignation was officially finalized at Tuesday’s School Board Meeting. (See the attached PERSONNEL REPORT)

When Coach arrived to work on Nov. 7, 2023, he had no intention of resigning from CUSD.  He was recognized as a talented and professional adult on campus.  He took his job seriously, had created meaningful relationships with students and his colleagues, and was proud of the service he provided District families.

On that same day, a CMS student was found with a weapon (a gun) on campus.  Although the exact nature of the gun remains unclear, the event required the involvement of law enforcement, a picture of the gun was taken, and a police report was filed (Case No. 23-115-57).  Instead of initiating either HOUR-ZERO or the new I LOVE YOU GUYS: Standard Safety Response Protocols (i.e. the routine school site SAFETY protocols), CMS Principal O’Shea chose a more personal approach to dealing with the potential threat posed to students and employees.

That evening, many hours later, the CMS Principal notified staff and parents of the incident.  In a patently inaccurate statement, she said, “At no time were any staff or students in danger.”   Principal O’Shea also alleged that the weapon was a “toy gun,” a detail Ms. O’Shea has since contradicted.   Although a public request for information was filed shortly after (see attached), CUSD has yet to confirm the true nature of the gun, instead responding by way of the District’s legal counsel; refusing to produce much of the requested information, including information that does not jeopardize the confidentiality of the student/s involved (see attached).

What many don’t know is that, Coach, on behalf of the students and employees he’s charged to protect in his unique role as a “Campus Supervisor,” contacted Principal O’Shea & Superintendent Rigby after the incident  He shared his concerns and asked pointed questions about the District’s administrative response, which failed to include routine safety protocols for such an event.  Among other details, he was concerned that Principal O’Shea chose (throughout the remainder of the school day) not to notify select employees who needed to know such information to best perform their duties on campus.


As soon as Coach returned to campus after the event, he was confronted by, Principal O’Shea, who was upset that he professionally shared his concerns, asked his questions, and included Ms. O’Shea’s boss (i.e. Superintendent Rigby).   Unwilling to be intimidated by an administrator who appeared to be placing the optics of her performance over the safety of students and employees, Coach immediately recognized the threat that Principal O’Shea’s response represented for those he was responsible for protecting.  Coach refused to support the Principal’s demands to remain silent with his concerns, observations, and questions.

Honorably, and without great fanfare, he resigned immediately.


Union leadership recognizes the personal and professional integrity that Coach brought to Carpinteria Middle School, an environment notorious for its permissive behavioral and academic atmosphere under Principal O’Shea’s supervision.   Those of us who worked with Coach know we are losing a reliable and approachable adult on campus.  He was Campus Supervisor who took his responsibilities seriously; committed to serving and protecting students and his colleagues from the very real harms that exist.    When such employees come forward to share their professional experience and concerns, they should not be confronted, berated, and threatened by their supervisors.   Ironically, by asking questions and sharing concerns with the intent of better preparing himself to support the safety and well-being of students and employees, Principal O’Shea in her misguided way, responded as if Coach was the real threat.

And so it continues.

In the midst of the greatest education sector labor shortage of our era, CUSD continues to exacerbate its challenges by driving away talented professionals like Coach.  For our part, Union Leadership wishes to set the record straight and express its appreciation for the sacrifice Coach made for District students, his colleagues, and their families.



C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *

6 Week LAPSE in CUSD’s SAFETY Response * 2023-24 School Year


Open Letter to CUSD School Board

6 Week LAPSE in CUSD’s SAFETY Response 

* 2023-24 School Year *



Dear CUSD School Board Trustees:

At the Sept 26, 2023 School Board Meeting, the Union  shared this public comment…

Although last year’s SAFETY Response protocols, known as HOUR-ZERO, have been withdrawn, nothing has been put in place to replace them on the ground.  The new SRP’s are far from implemented.  

Ms. Rigby confirms that just  this past Monday [sic. Sept.25th], now over 2 months into the school year, CUSD’s Administrators attended the first of two trainings on the new SAFETY RESPONSE PROTOCOLS.  [See attached – A ]  Meanwhile, District administrators continue to direct employees NOT TO USE the HOUR ZERO protocols that will one day be replaced. 


The Union shared concerns about a lapse in the District SAFETY protocols at the outset of the school year [sic, Aug. 26th Board Meeting].  At that time, the Superintendent assured you and the community that there would be no lapse in the District’s SAFETY response.    Well, wrong again.

And if you doubt the accuracy of this evening’s comments, Union Leadership can verify with documentation, including a directive from Canalino Principal, Jaime Persoon, notifying ALL Canalino Employees, “We no longer use HOUR-ZERO...

Or the email sent to District employees just today, cancelling emergency drills scheduled for today, and stating,  “This drill will be rescheduled and will not occur today. After conferring with the district office, it was decided it would be more practical to have the drill after the new safety training

In response to the Union’s comments, the Board neither asked CAUSE for clarity, engaged in public discussion, or provided any public response on the topic.   Once again, dismissing its obligation to act as stewards of the District and CUSD’s students and employees.   Therefore, to further demonstrate the accuracy of the Union’s public comments, we are providing both documents and video herein [i.e. as attachments & video links], which verify what we shared above.

The Union is also providing Page 33 of the 2023-24 LCAP

D – Pg 33 – 2023-24 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) – Still paying for HOUR-ZERO & 1:2 million for School Safety Teams !?!?!?! ] .


On this document, you will see that CUSD continues to  pay for the HOUR-ZERO online training, while also claiming the District is spending over a half a million dollars on CUSD School Site Safety Teams [ See attached – D ]  , at the very same time Principals and Superintendent Rigby direct staff to discontinue practicing HOUR-ZERO SAFETY Response Protocols,

CAUSE Leadership is compelled to remind the School Board that all the above is occurring, even after Ms. Rigby assured the CUSD School Board and the community there would be no lapse in the District’s SAFETY protocols and response during the now extended transition period.

See MINUTE * 33:20 –  MINUTE * 34:45 – Aug. 22, 2023 School Board Meeting 


As we stated in our public comments, last Tuesday, “Wrong again!


While the Union and District employees wait for the new SRP’s to be implemented, will the School Board be doing anything to address this predictable and inexcusable lapse in our District SAFETY Protocols and response?


What if something happened yesterday, or tomorrow?”


Union Leadership and the employees we represent anxiously await a resolution to the obvious and dangerous lapse in the District’s SAFETY response, now ongoing for the 6th week of the 2023-24 school year.  We ask the District School Board to act immediately to direct and correct the ongoing condition, documented in this open letter.


~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President


C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *