SMMUSD board appoints interim superintendent


A search for a permanent district head will begin in the fall.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

After two rounds of interviews, the Board of Education has selected San Francisco Bay Area resident Tim Cuneo to serve as the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s interim superintendent. The board will officially vote on his appointment at a special meeting at the district office on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

From 1966 to 1996, Cuneo served in several superintendent, assistant superintendent and dean of curriculum positions in the Bay Area. Since 1996, Cuneo has had various jobs involving education, including serving as an interim superintendent in another district. Most recently, he was a senior partner with the Cuneo-Zinner Group, specializing in organizational development for public and private educational ventures.

Cuneo has a bachelor’s degree in biological science from Chico State University and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Santa Clara University. Cuneo also has a California Administrative Credential from San Jose State University.

Cuneo was among four candidates interviewed by the board two weeks ago. He and another candidate were interviewed again last week.

“As the district continues to provide excellent education for its students, Mr. Cuneo’s experience will be a critical and strategic part of our plan to strengthen governance, improve special education and implement school construction plans as outlined in Measure BB,” Board President Oscar de la Torre said in a press release issued Monday. “He brings extensive background in board protocol, policy development and team building, which will deliver an immediate benefit to our district.”

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting states, “Contract negotiations between the district and Mr. Cuneo are in progress.”

Cuneo replaces Dianne Talarico, who stepped down as superintendent last month to take the head position at the Burlingame School District in San Mateo County. Talarico said she wanted to be closer to her husband, who lives in the Bay Area.

The board approved a timeline last month for the selection of a permanent superintendent by March 1. It includes the issuance of request for proposal notices for search firms this month. The search firm would be selected by September.