Op-Ed: The Resignation of a Talented Professional at Carpinteria Middle School

Carpinteria Middle School (courtesy)

By Jay Hotchner, CUSD Employee Union President 

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 Carpinteria Unified School District (CUSD).  His resignation was officially finalized at the November 28 School Board Meeting.

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 Carpinteria Middle School (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 Lisa 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 O’Shea has since contradicted. Although a public request for information was filed shortly after, 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, 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.

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  1. Perhaps the Principal didn’t want to admit that something stronger needed to be done with the student with the gun, so as to not have bad publicity or blowback from the parents. In other words, the Principal was protecting the student who posed a threat at the expense of the other innocent students and teachers.
    Several years ago a teacher in one of SB School District’s schools began to write anonymous death threats to several administrators and one teacher at a school. The type face on the notes was identified and the threatening individual was told to not go to the school where the personnel were threatened. That’s it. Within a few months the threat escalated to violence, and many people were traumatized when the individual arrived on the threatened campus and started trying to tear down doors to offices. The District administrations’ explanation for not protecting the others earlier, was that it might be “bad publicity” . Several resigned or asked to be transferred in this case also.

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