Former Superintendent, Dr. Joe Spirito, passes away

Adler Striegel, Reporter

On March 26, 2020, former Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) Superintendent, Dr. Joseph (Joe) Spirito passed away. An email was sent out on behalf of Ventura Unified Superintendent Roger Rice, notifying the Ventura Unified team that Spirito had died. The email also served as a reminder for the numerous ways Spirito had improved the lives of those that worked and learned in Ventura Unified. 

Spirito originally worked as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services and then served as Ventura Unified’s fourth Superintendent from 1993-2001. Before he worked in a leadership role he started his educator journey as a teacher. 

According to the email, Spirito was instrumental in the passing of, “Measure M in 1997, which allowed for modernization of the District, built Foothill Technology High School, and Citrus Glen Elementary and rebuilt Portola Elementary School and Sunset K-8.” 

In an article published by the LA Times, Spirito was quoted saying, “I can’t function behind a desk. My style is, you get out in the schools, and you talk to teachers, you hold children’s hands, you read stories to kids and you go in the classroom and teach if you have the opportunity to do that.”

“Spirito played the trumpet, loved attending […] high school sporting events and the arts. He is survived by his wife, Mari, who was a teacher at Mound Elementary School and his mother, who is now 106 years young,” described Rice in the email. 

Spirito will be greatly missed for his many contributions to Ventura Unified and his dedication to education. 

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