Dr. Frank Cosca, President, served as the founder and inspiration for The Cosca Group (TCG) when it was founded in 2000. Meeting for a number of months at the University of LaVerne, with a small committee of successful Superintendents and the wisdom and experience of Dr. Lee Newcomer and Dr. Leonard Murdy (two giants in the field of educational administration), the philosophy, organization, and procedures for the organization were developed.
Dr. Cosca often stated that after spending a long career as an educational leader, the thought of retiring was both challenging and daunting. His desire was to continue his involvement and impact on education and his goal was to determine the best way to accomplish that outcome. Knowing from experience the significance of the role of Superintendent and the importance of the Board – Superintendent relationship in determining the success of a school district, he decided that assisting Boards of Education in recruiting and selecting the most qualified candidates for Superintendent would be the best use of his talents and the talents of those he recruited to be a part of TCG as partners and associates.
Dr. Cosca led TCG for 18 years as its President and driving force. He continued to be an active participant in the life of TCG and serves as a mentor for many of its members.
Dr. Cosca began as a teacher and an elementary assistant principal in Santa Ana Unified School District. He then served as an elementary and later a junior high school principal in Fullerton School District. Dr. Cosca went on to become the Superintendent of the Eastside School District in Lancaster for three years, Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga for six years and finally the Superintendent of Ontario-Montclair School District in Ontario for the remaining eleven years of his career.
His many leadership roles included serving as advisor to the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the California School Boards Association (CSBA), the California Secretary of Education and the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as chairing the University of Southern California (USC) Dean’s Superintendents’ Advisory Group (DSAG).
After retiring as superintendent in Ontario-Montclair School District in 2000, Dr. Frank Cosca founded The Cosca Group (TCG), focusing on serving California school districts by finding outstanding superintendents to lead those districts. As other partners joined the firm, and The Cosca Group expanded, Frank’s commitment to excellent service continued to guide TCG in all of our work. After battling a long illness, Frank Cosca passed away on December 27, 2021. The members of TCG have dedicated ourselves to carrying on Frank’s legacy. Here are some words of tribute to our beloved founder.
Frank Cosca was the inspirational founder of The Cosca Group and served as its energetic and dynamic leader for over 20 years. In 2000, as a soon to be retired longtime superintendent, Frank searched for ways to continue to have a positive impact on public education and the lives of students. Because of his own experience, Frank understood the importance of the position of superintendent and appreciated the significant relationship between boards of education and their district’s leader. Based on that understanding, he knew that he could continue to have the impact he desired by working with boards in seeking and selecting great superintendent candidates and then supporting that relationship in the subsequent years. Assembling a team of over 30 retired public-school administrators, he forged long term superintendent – board relationships that enhanced the education of students in scores of districts throughout California. Thus, his legacy continued and continues to this day.
Frank was caring, vibrant, funny, enthusiastic, passionate, and a joy and challenge as a leader, colleague and friend. His impact has been immeasurable on me and all who knew him and on the profession he enhanced by his service. Frank was and will continue to be an inspiration and, without doubt, had the impact during retirement that he so desired – a great legacy indeed!
Steve Goldstone, Ed.D., TCG Partner
Frank Cosca is one of the most unique people I have ever known. Everyone seemed to know him. In his position as school district superintendent, leader of the superintendent’s group at USC and as President of TCG – he made a significant difference in the lives of so many. With Sharon, his amazing wife, Frank was able to make life better for all of us. Are we better people for knowing Frank? Darn right. As he would say – Fight On!!
Tom Halvorsen, TCG Partner
I got to know Frank Cosca when he placed me as a superintendent. From then on, I knew that I had a mentor and friend that I could count on for support. When I retired, I knew that I wanted to work with Frank, and I was honored when he asked me to join The Cosca Group. Working with Frank has been a highlight of my professional life, and having him as a friend enriched my life enormously. Frank was truly one of a kind. He was the leader that everyone would aspire to be – kind, generous, encouraging, focused on helping everyone else succeed. His sense of humor and positive outlook were contagious, and he was committed to providing the highest level of service. He was a role model for doing things the right way and treating people the right way. Being with Frank made all of us more focused on serving others and less interested in our own egos. For so many of us, when we face a difficult situation, we will ask, “What would Frank do?” And when we think about Frank, we will immediately smile and be grateful for having known him.
Joel Shapiro, TCG Partner
I met Frank when he became principal at Nicolas Jr High in 1978. I had been the counselor and was promoted to V.P. under Frank. His mentorship and support showed no bounds. He established a working environment that was very student-centered. He loved to laugh and made coming to work so much fun. I was proud every day of the work we did.
After retirement from the superintendency in Ontario-Montclair, he formed The Cosca Group. I was lucky to be invited to become a partner. Being back under his leadership has been a joy. He had a promise that everyone invited to be a team member in the group would be, above all, a nice person. He truly succeeded in bringing together a wonderful collection of people I now consider great friends as well as colleagues. I am amazed of how many of our partners have similar stories to how Frank influenced our professional growth and endeared himself to each of us.
The defining attribute of Frank’s life was his love and devotion to his family. Sharon and the boys, and now grandchildren were the center of his universe. Thank you for being a great friend, mentor, boss, and role model. You will be in our hearts forever and know that your legacy is strong and lives on through your team and countless others whose lives you touched.
With love, everlasting thanks, heartfelt appreciation, and enormous gratitude,
Pat Puleo, TCG partner
Dr. Frank Cosca’s passing is a tremendous loss to not only his great family, but to a very large cadre of us who worked with him in so many ways. He was our leader, our friend, our mentor, our yell leader, our advisor, and our encourager. He demonstrated love for his family and the people with whom he worked, fondness for gardening and the planting of beautiful flowers around his home and being a joyous reader of books as he drove to and from work. Oh, how we worried about him having a DWR (driving while reading) citation or accident!
To me, I came to know him out of the clear blue sky in 1983 when I applied to be his Assistant Superintendent, Business Services at the Central School District. He was like a positive brother throughout my administrative career, a constant believer in me all the time for over a nearly twenty-year professional relation followed by another twenty years in the private sector. Never once did it feel like he was my boss. He was my teammate, just an honest-to-goodness fun and enthusiastic fellow Italian whose roots were from the same Italian town/county of Bari, Italy as mine. Perhaps his great grandparents knew my great grandparents. Small world.
Frank will stand out in my memory as one of the three greatest men who influenced and blessed my life; the other two being my father and my U.S. Army Tactical Officer at Infantry Officer Candidate School located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Using some of the words of Paul Anka’s musical composition “My Way” and sung by many vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Dr. Cosca lived a life that that was full. He traveled each and every highway, and more, much more, than that, he did it his way.
In Heaven there is rest. Frank, you are surely there, making new friends and seeing long-time acquaintances with mammoth (a favorite word of yours) laughter and love. We miss you but will see you in the years to come. That will be a wonderful time when we hear you say our name and get one of your very genuine bear hugs.
Tom Garnella, TCG Partner
There was never a better advocate for a superintendent-to-be than Frank Cosca. He was in your corner, behind you all the way. Frank did not do it quietly, but with grand style and a lot of pizzazz. It was as if to shout from the rooftops, “This is the best superintendent candidate the world will ever see and she is a Cosca candidate!” He taught me how to be confident, how to find just the right job, how to explore career paths that were just quirky enough to land the job, and how to encourage and support others. He will always be one of the people who have made the biggest difference in my life and one of the very few who have been firmly, unequivocally, almost inexplicably in my corner from the time I met him forward for the rest of our relationship. He was a dear mentor and enthusiastic friend. Frank will be greatly missed. He has left his imprint on my life and will always be remembered.
Linda Kimble, TCG Partner
Dr. Frank Cosca was a remarkable leader that gave the most to his employees, and in turn, I believe he gained the most from us. He would constantly seek ways to serve his staff, creating development opportunities that enabled his team to grow and advance, making available the resources necessary. In addition, Dr. Cosca instilled the importance of servant leadership, listening more than talking, and helping us to find the value and importance of building relationships that result in long-term, meaningful connections. Though he will be missed dearly, the legacy he has made will continue, and those that now have the pleasure of working for The Cosca Group will carry on the many qualities he stood for.
Karla Rhay, TCG Partner
Frank Cosca was a wonderful father, grandfather and husband. He was also a supreme educator, always thinking of the needs of children for whom he was responsible, and committed to the ethical way to conduct business. He will be greatly missed by The Cosca Group.
Jeanne Davis, TCG Partner
Frank’s great energy and spirit were the primary reasons I was thrilled to join TCG. My thanks to both Frank and Steve for bringing me in and helping to make the transition to retirement so enjoyable. While I wasn’t as involved as I would have liked to have been, the experience has been truly memorable and an important part of my educational journey. We as educators leave a legacy not so much in our accomplishments, but in the impact we have on the people we work with and the students that we teach. In this regard, Frank’s legacy will be enormous. We will miss him and always hold him close in our hearts.
Bill Bragg, TCG Partner