Superintendent » Superintendent's Biography

Superintendent's Biography



Monterey Peninsula Unified School District

PK Diffenbaugh is a proven educational leader with experience bringing people together to achieve a shared vision. He was appointed Superintendent of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in June 2014, and is responsible for the education of more than 10,000 scholars in 11 elementary, three middle, three comprehensive high schools, one alternative high school, a dependent charter school, and a handful of programs and services in the communities of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Sand City and Seaside.

Since his appointment, Diffenbaugh has led the district in the bold reimagining of its secondary schools, expanded early childhood education, strengthened arts education across the district, expanded Career Technical Education, improved district and school culture, and passed a major school facilities bond with 70% voter approval. In just five years, MPUSD is on the road to becoming one of the finest school districts in the nation. In recent years, the district has been publicly recognized under his charge:

  • Seaside High: One of eight schools named a national School of Opportunity for creating remarkable opportunities for all students to learn by the National Education Policy Center
  • Monterey High: Silver Award Winner based on how well schools prepare students for college by U.S. News & World Report
  • Marina High: Partnership of Education Excellence by Monterey Peninsula College for the creation of the dual enrollment College and Career Access Pathways Partnership
  • Central Coast High: Model Continuation High School by the California Department of Education for providing exemplary instruction, flexible scheduling, career academies, and support systems for students who thrive in an alternative education setting


Prior to coming to MPUSD, he served as director of 7-12 instruction for Garden Grove Unified School District, where he oversaw all aspects of the instructional program for 10 intermediate and eight high schools. He also led the turnaround of Sacramento High School, and under his leadership the school saw an Academic Performance Index increase from 582 to 778, a state ranking increase from a 2 to a 7, an A-G U/CSU college eligibility increase from 35% to more than 80%, and 75% of graduates were accepted to four-year universities. He began his career as a 5th grade teacher in Oakland, CA.

Diffenbaugh holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Harvard University, an innovative partnership between the Harvard Business School, Kennedy School of Government, and Graduate School of Education.

He is married to Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a New York Times best-selling author of The Language of Flowers and We Never Asked for Wings. Together they have two adult children - Donovan, Tre’von - and two school-aged children - Graciela and Miles. Graciela and Miles both attend MPUSD schools.