The former Superintendent of Seattle Schools, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson has died at age 55.
According to the Seattle Times, Seattle Public Schools were notified at about 4:30 p.m. that Goodloe-Johnson had passed away about an hour before.
Her death, district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel told the Times, "was a total shock to everybody here."
A friend and colleague who directs the Council of the Great City Schools, Michael Casserly, told The Seattle Times she was recently hospitalized with cancer.
Goodloe-Johnson's tenure in Seattle was tenuous. She was often the target of criticism from teachers and parents.
In an exclusive interview with KIRO Radio's Linda Thomas in 2010, Goodloe-Johnson responded to her critics.
"I'm tough on issues, but I don't think I'm tough on people," said Goodloe-Johnson. "If leadership is a challenge around providing what's best for our kids, then that's okay. Because it's not okay for some students not to be doing well."
Goodloe-Johnson was fired in May 2011 following a financial scandal: $1.5 million in losses and questionable spending by the school district's Regional Small Business Development Program headed by Silas Potter, Jr. between September of 2005 and August of 2009.
Goodloe-Johnson previously headed the Charleston County School District in South Carolina.
One of her accomplishments in Seattle was negotiating a teachers' contract that included student performance in job evaluations.
The Seattle School District said she improved student academic achievement. The district extended condolences to her husband Bruce and daughter Maya.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.