Marijuana group funds middle school counseling position in Carpinteria

Carpinteria Unified School District administrators posing at Glasshouse Farms in Carpinteria


A Santa Barbara County School district will hire a middle school counselor using funds obtained from a marijuana growers association, a move prompting outrage among some parents. 

The Cannabis Association for Responsible Producers, also known as CARP Growers, pledged $189,000 in $63,000 annual installments over three years to the Carpinteria Unified School District to fund the middle school counselor position. In a unique twist, the school district will use the funds to hire the Carpinteria Middle School counselor through the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, a nonprofit that specializes in providing substances abuse, prevention, intervention and treatment programs in Santa Barbara County. [Coastal View]

In addition to frustration over a marijuana growers association funding a school counseling position, parents have also expressed outrage over a decision by Carpinteria school district administrators, including the superintendent and middle school principal, to tour a local pot cultivation site and pose for a photo. District administrators posed for the photo inside a Glasshouse Farms greenhouse while wearing the formal visitors apparel belonging to the marijuana business.

The administrators who posed for the photo were: Jamie Persoon, principal of Canalino Elementary; Diana Rigby, the district superintendent; Michelle Fox, principal of Aliso Elementary; Lisa O’Shea, principal of Carpinteria Middle; and Aaron LaPlante, the district technology director. In the photo, they are wearing Glasshouse Farms hats and visitors shirts.

On Aug. 27, the Carpinteria school board voted 4-1 to accept the donation from CARP Growers. Previously, the district identified the middle school counselor position as an unmet need and top priority for the current academic year.

O’Shea said the Carpinteria Middle School counselor will meet with students to provide therapy, run group therapy sessions, supervise lunch refocus and provide any other services deemed necessary to support students. The new counselor is expected to arrive on the middle school campus as early as the week of Sept. 23.