Meet Passaic’s first Latina Superintendent: Sandra Montanez-Diodonet

superintendent sandra montanez-diodonet

The Passaic Public Schools District officially welcomed its first Latina superintendent, Sandra Montanez-Diodonet, on July 6.

She previously served as assistant superintendent of the Paterson Public Schools District and replaced Mr. Pablo Munoz. Montanez-Diodonet is a Passaic High School alum, class of ‘89. After graduating high school, she worked part-time as a law assistant in Newark while going to college at William Paterson University. After 11 years, she graduated.

The Boulevard reached out to Madame Superintendent Montanez-Diodonet regarding her new position and what she plans on doing for Passaic City schools. 


The Boulevard Online: What experiences have had the biggest impact on you, career-wise?

Montanez-Diodonet: There are many experiences that have had an impact on me. I have served in several capacities throughout my educational career, from substitute teacher, Associate Chief Academic Officer to Assistant Superintendent. Each position has made me better than the next. However, hands down I have to say that my experience as a building principal is one that I will cherish forever. It is the position that has had the most impact on me and my career. As a building principal, I was able to bring about a lot of positive change and outcomes that benefited students, staff, and the community. I like to say that principals have the best job in America!


TBO: What encouraged you to apply for the position of superintendent?

Montanez-Diodonet: Becoming a superintendent has been a career goal of mine since 2010. Serving as the Associate Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent prepared me for the position of Superintendent of Schools. As an Associate Chief Academic Officer, the Chief Academic Officer and I supervised 18 departments. In these roles we were profoundly involved with curriculum and instruction. Additionally, as an Assistant Superintendent, I supervised 20 principals and 18 schools. My daily work endeavors were both instructional and operational. I would say that every position that I held in the educational system, however, has thoroughly prepared me for the position of superintendent.


TBO: How does it feel to be the city’s first Latina superintendent?

Montanez-Diodonet: It feels incredible just being appointed as the Superintendent of my beloved hometown! Truthfully, I never looked at it from that point of view. I was not aiming to be the first Latina Superintendent. I was aiming to bring my knowledge and experience as an instructional and operational leader to Passaic. My goal is to be the best servant leader Superintendent that Passaic Public Schools has had and deserves. I hope to be impactful, collaborative, and bring about positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Mayor Lora was the first person to point that out to me, and I was like, well that is great! The realization of this did bring a smile to my face. I am of the mindset that little boys and girls cannot be what they cannot see! I want to inspire our students to become anything they wish to be because they can! I want them to understand that achieving their dreams will take hard work, time, effort, commitment, and sacrifice! Nothing comes easy but nothing is impossible! To me, being a Latina is just a blessing in general. I like to say I’m a wise Latina like (Supreme Court) Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

My hope is to pave the way for others. I consider it to be a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to have the distinction of being the first Latina Superintendent. However, I want to acknowledge those within our district, who are the firsts in their titles as well. I hope to inspire others to reach any goals with hard work, a plan and faith.


TBO: What will be your top short-term priorities as superintendent? Long-term?


Short-term priorities:

  • Implementing my 90-Day Entry Plan entitled “We are Passaic!”
  • Building relationships with the Board of Education, staff, parents, and the community
  • Ensuring the safe reopening of schools
  • Ensuring the social emotional wellness of staff and students
  • Ensuring a positive climate and culture
  • Listening and deeply learning the Passaic Schools Systems


Long-term goals:

  • Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of the district to ensure that the long-term goals are what Passaic Public Schools really needs. However, the following are long term goals as well:
  • Establishing a Five-Year Strategic Plan – this will be done collaboratively with all stakeholders and guide our work collectively for the next five years.
  • Ensuring that Passaic Public Schools’ student outcomes are increasing yearly.
  • Providing relevant professional learning and support.
  • Ensuring that Passaic Public Schools engage in equity work for all.


TBO: Any comments you would like to share with The Boulevard?


  • I cannot wait to see you and collaborate with you all!
  • I visit schools often and engage with the teachers and students, do not be surprised if I

pop in to say hello!

  • Remember, We are Passaic and We are Better Together!


Congratulations to Superintendent Montanez-Diodonet, and thank you for your time!