Dianne Talarico, former Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District superintendent, died May 17 of lung cancer. She was 53.
Talarico came to the SMMUSD from a school district in Canton, Ohio to replace John Deasy as superintendent in 2006. She left the district two years later for a job in Northern California closer to her husband, Enrique Navas-Vasquez.
Talarico earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bowling Green State University and her master’s degree in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University. She began her career as a special education teacher in Ohio. Talarico then worked as a principal and special education teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District for nearly 20 years. She also served as principal of the American Overseas School in Rome and worked as an adjunct professor at San Francisco State.
Although Talarico’s time at the SMMUSD was frequently controversial, she remained dedicated to her cause.
“I’m a risk taker. I’m courageous. I’m passionate about what I do. But I’m one of the strongest child advocates you’ll ever meet,” Talarico told The Malibu Times in 2006.
In addition to Navas, Talarico is survived by four stepchildren, her mother, a brother and a sister.
The family is arranging a celebration-of-life service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Burlingame Community for Education Foundation.