Ca. State Agency Confirms CUSD’s Retaliation

Against Union Leadership


CUSD Employees, Colleagues, and Stakeholder Families,

Union Leadership is pleased to announce this historic legal victory !

Background & Recent Legal Decision:

On November 16, 2021, the Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”), the California agency charged with upholding public employees’ labor rights, found that Carpinteria Unified School District (“District”) discriminated and retaliated against Carpinteria Association of United School Employees (“CAUSE”) Union President, Jay Hotchner.  At that time, the CUSD was required  by “PERB” to notify District employees of District leadership’s retaliatory actions.

Approximately two months later, the District quietly notified District employees with as little fanfare as possible, sending an after-hours email on Jan. 7, 2022, titled, “PERB Posting.” ( )   In it’s notification, the District neither explained itself nor provided any further expression of remorse and culpability; beyond the State’s summary and the Human Resource Director Diana Zapata’s signature (on behalf of Superintendent Diana Rigby’s) accepting liability for the District’s illegal actions.

(  )

Over this period, it appears the District spent approximately $400,000 – $500,000 trying to accomplish these types of retaliatory objectives.  Yet, it failed to mention the abuse of public trust and the significant financial costs associated with using public-monies to:

(A) retaliate against Union leadership

(B) defend its illegal actions (over a period of 2 years) in a State court, and…

(C) attempt to avoid legal accountability for its illegal behavior

The District’s brief notification, compelled by California “PERB”, also failed to mention that the CUSD School Board supported these violations by continuing to fund them (on several occasions) over the course of 2 years.   Nor did the CUSD’s notification attempt to explain its underlying violations,  (i.e. issuing Mr. Hotchner two Notices of Unprofessional Conduct [“45 Day Notices”] for engaging in protected union activity).  More specifically for :

1.)  representing classified employees in LAYOFF (“bumping  rights”) meetings; as permitted by the contract

2.)  representing certificated employees in grievance actions; as permitted by the contract

3.) representing employees who act to obtain copies of their personnel file; as permitted by the contract

PERB found that the District and its agents acted with an unlawful motive, because CUSD illegally issued the Notices as a result of the Union president’s (Mr. Hotchner’s) protected union activity.    Moreover, PERB determined that the District and its agents failed to prove that Mr. Hotchner engaged in the types of unprofessional conduct that the District used as a basis for the discipline it meted to CAUSE President Hotchner.  (  )

Moving Forward:

This victory sends a powerful message to the District administrators and Board Members who participated in and supported this retaliatory campaign.  It also further memorializes the CUSD’s unique anti-labor/anti-employee culture, fostered under Superintendent Diane Rigby and her select leadership team, as well as members of the CUSD Board of Trustees.   Like yourselves, they can be certain that your Union, led by CAUSE’s elected leadership and representatives, will fight for and protect its members from similar attacks and unprofessional administrative behavior.   We will not tolerate the District’s illegal actions. Nor should you.

We extend our appreciation to the many faculty, support staff, external agency partners, and District stakeholders who assisted in this matter and stood up to protect our critical Union rights!

It remains an honor to serve you.


C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *



FREE COVID Home Tests | US Postal Service

Order at home tests now.


Good afternoon, CUSD Colleagues, Students, and Families.

You may follow the link, below, to order your FREE COVID HOME TESTS as soon as today.

Union leadership appreciates your proactive effort to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and protect yourselves, your families, and the community at large.



C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *


Masks and Transmission Times ?

Here’s the Best Chart We’ve Seen Yet



Greetings CUSD Colleagues, Students, and Families,

This week has brought significant increases in the number of COVID-19 positive students, employees, and family members reported across the CUSD.    (And there’s no telling exactly how many are not diligently reporting transmissions.)

Many District employees have experienced uncertainty and confusion when determining the best response after learning they’ve been exposed to a COVID positive individual (i.e. student, colleague, administrator, parent, etc.).   Many are unsure if they’ve had a “close-contact” or not, and realize that the District’s definition (“unmasked contact for more than 15 minutes”) is so over-simplified that it’s much less-relevant in the face of recent changes in guidance.

When determining whether you or a loved one should continue to provide service, attend school, or take-leave to either “ISOLATE” or “QUARANTINE”, this chart should be helpful.   It clarifies expectations related to COVID-19 transmission; depending on the variety of different masks being used.

CDPH and ETS Iso Quarantine_Jan2022.pptx (CAUSE.jH)

We hope this takes some of the mystery out of an already uncertain and stressful decision.

In Unity,

~ j. Hotchner


C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *



Word’s of Wisdom from the CHS Principal

Tracking and Mitigating Further COVID-19 Transmissions




Good afternoon, CUSD Colleagues,

Recently, the CHS principal, Gerardo Cornejo, published an update regarding the high-school’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  There was much wisdom to be found in his email to staff and faculty.   Concerned that it is not being applied District wide, the Union is promoting several of the details Mr. Cornejo covered.  We’re also adding a few more for good measure.


1.) At this time we need to make the assumption that all students have been exposed to the virus. Therefore, it is very important that CUSD Staff and Faculty monitor both themselves and their students for symptoms.

2.) The CUSD uses AIRIES to maintain students’ daily attendance records. If a student has a Q on their attendance, please make sure they have completed their Quarantine as noted on the attendance page of Aeries.   If a student shows up earlier than the completion date in AIRIES, DO NOT ALLOW THEM INTO THE CLASSROOM.  Instead, send them to the school-site office immediately.

3.) If a student has an unverified absence on Aeries, send them to the office immediately.   Site administration must confirm the reason a student was absent and conduct any follow up inquiry if needed.

4.)  The CUSD is only providing COVID test kits to student; not employees.   Student testing has not been and is not a routine on our campuses.  In regard to the CUSD’s ability to confirm test-results, this approach is predicted to be a far less-effective approach than testing methods in surrounding Districts (ex. Like SBUSD – ).  Union leadership asks District faculty to go an extra-step; please contact the families of your students and emphasize that their child has been provided two (2) these test kits.  This may be done via  PARENTSQUARE, your teacher-website, GOOGLE CLASSROOM, or whatever method you use for routine communications.

As students and parents are our most immediate partners in education, many consistently engage in direct communication with teachers, but do not review the more politicized information and messaging that comes from the Superintendent’s office.  Therefore, your effort to communicate these details reinforces the distribution of tests by CUSD.  Given both the value and demand associated with these kits, Union leadership would like to see that our students and community realize a higher level of efficacy than is predicted by the CUSD’s hastily prepared roll-out.

6.) When you contact parents, you may want to cut and paste the reminders below (a.- d.), or put them in your own words.  Union leadership encourages each faculty member to reinforce the following:

a.  Given the OMICRON surge, clothe masks are far inferior to N-95 & KN-95 masks.

b.  If families do not have access to higher quality masks, double-masking is a better alternative to a single clothe mask.

c.  Masks are only effective if they are worn correctly. They should be worn securely over the nose & mouth, and it is now recommended that students wear masks indoors and outdoors when adequate social-distancing is not possible.

d.  Although students, employees, and families are not required to divulge their testing or COVID-19 status,  Union  leadership wants to discourage any stigma associated with the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  Please consider transparently sharing whether your child or anyone in your household has been potentially exposed, is experiencing symptoms, or is / recently tested COVID positive.  (This same encouragement goes out to our teachers and support staff across the District, who are also encouraged to notify families of the same .  Let’s act to protect each other, our students, and their families.)

In support of public-health,

~ CAUSE Leadership



C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *


Summary of Updated CalOSHA & CDPH COVID-19 Guidance

RE: Quarantine and Isolation for K-12 Personnel and Students




Good evening, District Employees, Students, and Families.

CAUSE Leadership has learned that the CDC’s guidance is a little more lenient than the CDPH and Cal/OSHA.  Since the CUSD is required to follow these statewide & more local guidelines, we are presenting these as well.

You may follow this link…

Cal OSHA Chart – Quarantine requirements for workers


Although the differences may be slight, please make every effort to familiarize yourself with CDPH‘s and Cal/OSHA’s guidance, which clarify the expectations that the CUSD alleges to follow.   Of significance, the autonomy for determining the most appropriate response is in the hands of the employee, not the District.    [Only you know your vaccination status, medical symptoms, how close, and for how long you may have been exposed to a COVID positive individual.]

Moving forward, know that you are not required to wait for either notification or permission from District leadership to follow these expectations.  Whether or not the District acknowledges that exposure prior to a potential leave event, please follow the isolation and quarantine guidelines.  The Union will work with you to ensure that CUSD covers eligible COVID-19 leave for employees who are directed by CalOSHA and/or CDPH to either “isolate” or “quarantine” (as per their attached guidelines).

In Unity,

~ CAUSE Leadership


C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *



Returning Amidst a COVID Surge; Omicron Variant

What is CUSD Doing to Protect Employees, Students, and their Families?



Dear CUSD Colleagues, Students, and Families:

As of this Monday, January 3, 2022, neither parents or staff have been advised of the CUSD’s plans to adjust and/or increase its COVID mitigation efforts or actions (i.e. associated with the current OMICRON surge and increased rate of transmission.)

Districts across the region have invested much time and effort repositioning for the current surge.  Several have announced clear and proactive modifications to their COVID protocols, designed to ensure the SAFETY of students, staff, and District families.

But here in CUSD, we’ve heard no such thing.

And this time, the CUSD’s inaction is clearly not about either a lack of money or time to prepare; two conditions that District leadership routinely allege.

On December 22, 2021, California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, announced new actions to protect our community from COVID-19:

      * At-home test kits to be distributed statewide for students returning to public school

      * Hours to be extended at testing sites with increased demand

* State to require health care workers to get boosters by February 1, 2022

Here’s a link to the announcement, with more detail therein.

Beyond reminding unvaccinated employees of previous expectations to test, Union leadership asks the CUSD to clarify the proactive modifications it is making to its COVID response.  We ask that this is done prior to reopening the CUSD in the midst of the most recent surge.

When and where will these State funded test-kits be distributed to students and employees?

If the CUSD chooses not to engage in this recommended action, what justification or rationale does it provide the thousands of Carpinterian families who will be at increased risk as of January 6, 2022; when students and employees return to in-person instruction?


* C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *


RE: District Leadership Performance Surveys

We take matters of CONFIDENTIALITY very seriously.

[ District retaliation is a legitimate concern. ]




CUSD Colleagues,

Thank you to the many who have reached out to CAUSE with their questions and concerns.  CAUSE Leadership understands that many CUSD employees genuinely fear administrative retaliation if they share survey feedback that contains criticisms, concerns, negative marks and/or observations about our District leadership.

It is true that Superintendent Rigby, with the support of the School Board, has pursued an atmosphere that threatens dissenting employee voices and has illegally punished those who have engaged in Union activities.  Fortunately, the State of California recognizes this also.  Recently, this was again demonstrated by important legal decisions confirming CUSD’s attempts to discipline employees for engaging in protected Union activities.

With this in mind, we want to assure our District colleagues, CLASSIFIED and CERTIFICATED, that the Union takes the CONFIDENTIALITY of survey participants VERY SERIOUSLY.

Here’s how:

1.) The Union will not release any survey responses or data in association with any single respondent’s name or identity.

2.) Where, due to respondent pool size, a small pool of respondents could be easily identified; Union Leadership will not publicize said data alone.  Instead, we will collate that data with larger data-sets.   Feedback from our smaller elementary schools or programs will be collated with Site-Principal or Supervisor data from the larger school-sites & programs they work administer.


           (A) SUMMERLAND data is collated w/ALISO data

           (B) CFS data is collated w/ CANALINO data

           (C) RINCON HS data is collated w/ CHS data

3.) Confidential access to comprehensive survey data is limited to a select few (No more than 3.) elected CAUSE leaders.  Similarly, respondent feedback is preserved on external computers and programs, which are encrypted, password protected, and inaccessible to the CUSD.

Moving forward, whether an employee works at either a large or small school-site/program, CLASSIFIED & CERTIFICATED employees may participate in the survey process with the confidence that CAUSE Leadership has thoroughly considered how it can secure and protect their confidentiality and well-being.

Similar to teaching and learning, CAUSE Leadership is painfully aware that little genuine engagement can occur until the SAFETY of those involved can be secured.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

     ~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President




C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *





2021 Performance Surveys

District Leadership: Site Principals, Supervisors, Directors

Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent,

& the Human Resource Director




Greetings District Colleagues,

On Dec. 1st, Union leadership released four (4) performance surveys, to be completed by District Unit-Members (i.e.Both employees who are and are not union members; CLASSIFIED & CERTIFICATED).   We appreciate the participation of so many CUSD employees who took a few minutes to record their experience working with CUSD’s administrators.

Throughout this week, we have received many requests to extend the deadline we had previously announced (Dec. 10, 2021).  As a result, CAUSE is extending the collection period.

Please make every effort to complete the surveys before the winter break gets underway.  And encourage your colleagues to do the same, which can be done by simply forwarding this to their personal or email accounts.   

Just follow the link below, which will take you to our CAUSE website where the surveys have been posted.  [Go to MEMBER SURVEYS, and select from the scroll-down menu below.]


  Screen shot…



Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.



C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *




Re: CUSD’s Performance Evaluation Violations

The Union rests it’s case.




Greetings CUSD Employees, Administrators, and District Families.

The Union is pleased to confirm that the legal hearings associated with the District’s contract violations have concluded. Not only did the Union effectively present its case regarding the District’s extensive and historic evaluation violations, but our efforts also expedited (without prejudice) the merits of the case.

By the time the hearing had concluded, CAUSE Leadership accomplished the following:

1.) Through stipulations, the District agreed with CAUSE about many relevant facts pertaining to the CLASSIFIED evaluation processes experienced by many employees.  As a result, many witnesses were not required to be pulled out of the teaching & learning environment to physically provide their testimony, which was instead placed on the record via the stipulation process.

2.) Since the District stipulated a number of important facts it had previously refused to acknowledge, the hearing event was reduced to a single date (Monday, November 28, 2021).  This saved the Union some anticipated costs, but much more importantly, it prevented the District from squandering even more public-monies in an attempt to defend its contract violations.

3.) Through testimony provided by the Union President, j. Hotchner, CAUSE was able to introduce the remainder of the important facts needed to further clarify the District’s performance evaluation violations.  This testimony included a variety of now well documented employee experiences, including but not limited to: (A) the long-standing nature of the District’s evaluation violations under Superintendent Diane Rigby, and (B) the District’s well documented (i.e. by state agencies/boards) retaliation and targeting of Union Leadership and CUSD employees seeking Union advocacy.


The next phase in this process involves the submission of legal briefs to the judge, which is scheduled to take place in February, 2022.  We hope to have a decision from the neutral state arbitrator by April, 2022; a timeline that allows the District to implement (and the Union to monitor) any improvements and directed remedies before the end of the 2021-22 instructional year.

CAUSE Leadership appreciates the bravery and dignity demonstrated by so many CLASSIFIED employees who worked with the Union and refused to accept the violations thrust upon them by CUSD leadership.  In choosing to demand their contractual rights, their sacrifice brings benefit to their students, their colleagues, and the families they serve; all the while, improving the professional culture and (perhaps even) the ethical expectations of District management.

In Unity,

~ CAUSE Leadership




* C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *



About Today’s Arbitration / Hearing:

Re. CUSD’s Performance Evaluation Violations

Why Evaluations Matter?



Greeting CUSD Colleagues & Families,


Today, as a result of the recent decision by a neutral state arbitrator, CUSD and CAUSE will be in hearings  throughout the day.  In these hearings, we’ll be exploring the District’s now well documented violations associated with CLASSIFIED performance evaluations.


Meanwhile, we wanted to help District employees clearly understand the contractual process they are both required and entitled to participate in.  Developing a strong record of high quality professional growth and performance is an important part of your professional experience and record. 

Here’s  why evaluations matter:

1.)   The Evaluation processes, as contained in the CERTIFICATED & CLASSIFIED collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are a measuring tool for employee performance.

The evaluation process is an opportunity for site/facility administrators to work directly and constructively with the CUSD employees they supervise.  The evaluation article and process are designed to improve employee performance.  The contract article (again, attached) is designed to serve as a growth-oriented process (i.e. versus a disciplinary process, which is also contained in the CBA.)


2.)   The evaluation process provides all District employees an opportunity to both demonstrate their professional competency.


3.)   The evaluation process provides both employees and the District with a formal record of their high-quality performance; the documentation being maintained and preserved in each employee’s personnel file.   This formal record may impact a variety of future and/or other professional matters, such as…

  • It may be used to inform promotion decisions.
  • It may be used to investigate past performance, to contest or in the face of fabricated disciplinary allegations.
  • In both external (ex. PERB, State courts, etc.) and internal (ex.. meetings with the Human Resource Department, Site-Meetings, etc.) environments, performance evaluation may be used to establish a pattern of professional and ethical conduct and performance.


4.)   The evaluation process is not intended or designed to serve as a disciplinary process.   These are two distinct processes in the CLASSIFIED CBA, which are not to be confused or conflated.  The evaluation process is not to be used by CUSD administrators to either play “Gotcha’!” with previously unannounced performance concerns, or as a retaliatory tool when supervisors take offense with an employees gender, race, ethnicity, Union affiliation, medical condition, age, or for any other discriminatory reason.


Union leadership looks forward to providing further updates as the arbitration process continues.  Your attention, engagement, and support are appreciated.

In Solidarity,

~ j. Hotchner * CAUSE President



* C.A.U.S.E. – Yes We Can ! *