PALLOTTA, RICO (13 Dec. 1922-4 Jan. 1998) established and was the executive director of the Positive Education Program, which has been called one of the country's five most innovative programs dealing with severely disturbed children. He was born in Bedford, Ohio, to Alex Pallotta, a laborer, and Angela (Potesta) Pallotta and remained in Bedford until he graduated from Bedford High School in 1940. Pallotta served in the Army Air Forces as a B-25 pilot with the 345th Bomb Group's 501st Bomb Squadron in the Pacific and participated in the Philippines Liberation. He flew more than 40 missions and received the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. In 1949, Pallotta graduated from the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC. He later earned a master's degree from the school and subsequently played with the Cleveland Orchestra when the group needed an accordionist. From 1958 to 1963, he taught elementary school classes in the Beechwood schools until he became an administrative intern in the Shaker Heights Schools from 1963-1965. Pallotta was principal of the Richmond Heights Middle School from its opening in 1965 until 1969, when he was appointed director of the Title 6 program for handicapped children administered by the Euclid-Lyndhurst schools. In 1970, he earned a doctorate in educational administration from the CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.
In 1971, Pallotta established the Positive Education Program which provides schools, treatment centers, group homes, early childhood intervention, and school-to-work vocational training for students with severe behavioral problems. The students placed in the program come from several school districts in Cuyahoga County. Pallotta received numerous honors for his work, including the Council for Exceptional Children's Educator of the Year award, a presidential citation from the Ohio School Psychologists Association and the Special Education Leadership Award from the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County. In 1997, Pallotta was inducted into the Bedford High School Hall of Fame and the Positive Education Program created the Hobbs-Pallotta Leadership Award in Mr. Pallotta's honor. The program's building, which was undergoing renovation prior to Pallotta's death, was renamed the Rico F. Pallotta Positive Education Center in his memory.
In 1948, Pallotta married Marjorie Knoll. They had five children: J. Ward, Richard, Thomas, Ann and Joy. Pallotta died of pancreatic cancer in Bainbridge Township, OH.