Former Ramona High School principal dies after assault

By Bill Tamburrino

Frank James Motta, principal at Ramona High School from 1990 to 1993, died on Thursday, March 15, after being attacked by a suspect while trying to break up a party at a neighbor’s house.

Motta, 65, died at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

Motta had retired from education and had moved to the Spokane area where he had been volunteering at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Center since 2009. He was hired as a patient advocate four months ago.

Motta coordinated with all areas of the hospital to ensure that veterans got the best possible service available, according to Sunii Wadhwqan, a spokesperson for the center. Motta’s wife, Virginia, and his daughter, Jami, also volunteer there.

According to Deputy Craig Chamberlin, a spokesperson for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, Motta was attacked by a partygoer while trying to break up a party at his neighbors’ house Saturday night, March 10. The neighbor was out of town and had asked Motta to clear out the party.

An 18-year-old suspect with gang affiliations was arrested on an assault charge, officials reported. He reportedly showed no remorse for his actions in a television interview recorded before Motta’s death. The charge could be upgraded to a murder charge due to Motta’s death.

Motta, 65, was an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War. He had a career in education that lasted over 30 years. He was an English teacher, football coach, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendant.

Mel Galli, who retired from the Ramona Unified School District after working as a teacher, coach, athletic director, and assistant principal, said he worked with Motta at several schools.

“I was a junior varsity coach at Workman High School in La Puente and Frank was a first year teacher,” said Galli. “He asked if he could be my assistant coach. He was so energetic and such a hard worker. When I got my first varsity job in Granger, Wash., he came with me as a varsity assistant. When I moved to Othello, Wash., he also remained on my staff.

“Ironically, he came to Ramona as our principal when I was a varsity football coach. He mentored me and got me into administration.

“He got totally involved in everything he did. He didn’t do anything halfway. At times he rubbed people the wrong way, but you always knew where he stood and what he stood for. He was an educator and a humanitarian. I bet that he went all out helping those vets in Washington.”

Related posts:

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  2. Ramona High School Library conducts book donation drive
  3. David Reichner is new basketball coach at Ramona High
  4. Ramona High celebrates two state awards for excellence: Distinguished School and Exemplary Career Technical Education Program
  5. Cassie Miller: Ramona High School Female Athlete of the Year

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Mar 20 2012. Filed under News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Former Ramona High School principal dies after assault”

  1. Tammy Badgett

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Motta family. Mr. Motta was a great principal here at RHS. He will be deerly be missed. "The Class of 1991 – RHS"

    Tammy 'Maxwell" Badgett

  2. Essence Oyos-Haynes

    Love & healing thoughts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Motta. I didn’t know him but know he must have been an important part of ‘my generation’ as they stepped into adulthood. I also want to comment on the heartful ways in which Mr. Tamburrino writes about beloved Ramona community members. Even though I don’t live there anymore, it helps ‘bring me home.’

  3. John J. Bowman

    Frank Motta was one of the best principals for whom I worked in my 40 years of high school teaching. His word was his bond, a quality often lacking in other administrators I have known. He did not tolerate laggards in the classroom, were they student or teacher.He admired the responsible teacher, the educator who actually taught, the teacher who was more than a mere purveyor of information, the teacher providing the student with preparation for higher education and life. Frank Motta was a man for all seasons. I shall remember him in all my prayers.John Bowman, Teacher

  4. Isaac Dye

    Farnk J. Motta was a angry, vengeful man. Speaking facts are not speaking ill of the dead. I know that he made my life very difficult as I pursued an East Coast private school education en route to becoming an attorney and educator in New York, California and througout the world. People that also knew him have written to me and said, "Just desserts." I am willing to face my Karma for comments like this but I cannot not stand by and let the man be glorified. He went out, it seems, appropriately, trying to impose an archaic, egocentric misunderstanding of his surrounding on those who just wanted to learn and live. The man should not be celebrated. The taking of lives is terrible but I cannot help to think that as you live by the sword, so to shall you die by it. I condemn Frank Motta and his killer.

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