HomeCommunity NewsBurbank Grieves Teacher Who ‘Touched Lives of Thousands’

Burbank Grieves Teacher Who ‘Touched Lives of Thousands’

A memorial of flowers and messages grew beneath the windows of Karyn Lombardo’s kindergarten classroom at Bret Harte Elementary School this week after news of the beloved teacher’s tragic death rocked the Burbank community.

Students, staff members, parents and neighbors were left reeling as national news outlets circulated the story of the longtime educator’s death, which police say was a murder.

“You were the kindest, [most] wonderful, caring teacher ever. You helped hundreds of kids start their journey. You will be missed,” one student wrote on a card at the memorial filled with bouquets and crayon drawings of the teacher by her young pupils.

Lombardo’s 25-year-old son, Kyle Lombardo, was charged Thursday with murder in the death of the 57-year-old woman, a teacher in Burbank for more than 27 years.

Kyle Lombardo was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment May 22 in a Pasadena courtroom, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

On Tuesday at about 10 p.m., police officers and paramedics responded to a residence in the 800 block of North Avon Street “regarding an unconscious female,” the Burbank Police Department said in a statement.

“When police officers and paramedics arrived, they found the unconscious woman inside the home,” police said. “Life-saving measures were taken by officers and paramedics, but the woman was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

Karyn Lombardo

Police identified the woman as Lombardo and said she lived at the residence with her husband and son.

“Ms. Lombardo’s adult son was subsequently arrested … based on information obtained and evidence at the scene revealing he caused her death during an altercation in the family home,” police said. “There are no outstanding suspects or any danger to the community.”

Authorities have not said how the woman was killed. An autopsy is pending, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s website.

Karyn Lombardo was a veteran Burbank Unified School District teacher, most recently at Bret Harte Elementary.

“Over the course of her highly accomplished career, Ms. Lombardo touched the lives of thousands of students, parents, and colleagues, who will be mourning this loss in the days to come,” BUSD Superintendent John Paramo wrote in a message to district families on Wednesday.

According to Paramo, Lombardo joined the district in 1990, teaching bilingual Spanish and English classes at Joaquin Miller Elementary School. She transferred to Bret Harte in 1993, teaching kindergarten and performing arts.

“Her dedication, warmth and passion for teaching touched many students and colleagues’ lives. Her profound impact and loss on this community will be deeply felt throughout the city of Burbank,” he said.

Counselors were made available to students and staff at the school following news of her death, the superintendent said.

The city of Burbank also issued a statement Thursday, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Karyn Lombardo, a cherished teacher whose dedication and passion for education profoundly impacted many lives. Her unwavering commitment to her students and the Burbank community was truly exceptional. She will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and all who knew her during this incredibly challenging time.”

Vince Lombardo, Karyn’s husband and the father of Kyle, told KTLA5 on Wednesday night that the couple had been married for 31 years and have two children. He said he last spoke to his wife around 10 p.m. Tuesday while he was on an overnight trip in Lake Arrowhead.

“We texted and everything was fine,” he told the station. “I expected to see her today and then I got the call.”

He said his son has a mental condition and that police have been called to their home in the past.

“It’s a reactionary system and that’s basically what I was told,” he said of the mental health services available to his son. “Until something happens, you can’t do anything. There’s not enough help to help these people, especially when they become adults.”

He said his wife “loved [Kyle] more than anything and tried to help him. All of her students love her. Coming through the system here, there were students who became teachers because of her. She’s a very magnificent person and I think if you ask anybody, I think she’s too kind, that she loves to a fault.”

In a statement regarding the case, District Attorney George Gascón said, “Ms. Lombardo, a beloved teacher in the Burbank community, had her life senselessly taken. I want to assure the victim’s family and the community that our office is fully committed to seeking justice and accountability in this tragedy.”

Kyle Lombardo could face a maximum of life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the D.A.’s office.


In an email to BUSD stakeholders, Paramo shared tips to assist young children with grief, among other resources for district staff and parents to navigate Karyn Lombardo’s death.

“Coping with the loss of a loved one is an immense challenge, and the grieving journey differs for everyone. Grief is deeply personal, and there’s no universal roadmap for it. It’s natural to experience a range of emotions, from sadness and isolation to anger and bewilderment. Each person’s path through grief is distinct, and it’s crucial to validate and honor one’s emotions throughout the process,” he wrote.

School psychologists and the Family Service Agency of Burbank — the district’s mental health counseling partner — were on site at Bret Harte Elementary to support students and staff and will remain present in the coming days, Paramo said. The same resources are available at each BUSD school site.

“As Burbankians, our strength lies in unity,” Paramo wrote. “Now is the time to come together as a collective, as a family, to support one another through this challenging period. Our ability to assist students in coping is paramount to our community’s resilience.”

— City News Service contributed to this report.

First published in the May 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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