Michelle King named next LAUSD superintendent

Has long history within district

City News Service | 1/14/2016, midnight
Los Angeles Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Michelle King was tapped to lead the nation’s second largest district Monday.

Los Angeles Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Michelle King was tapped to lead the nation’s second largest district Monday.

“What a historic moment this is,'' LAUSD board President Steven Zimmer said. “A daughter of our city, a student and graduate of LAUSD, a teacher from our schools, a principal from our system, a leader of our community will now take the helm with us together to lead this district, our schools and our community for breakthroughs in public education for the students that need us the most.''

King, 54, has been with the district for 31 years as a teacher and administrator. She is the first woman to lead the district in more than 80 years and the first Black woman to ever lead the nation's second-largest district.

“I am honored and proud to be selected as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District,'' King said. “I again want to thank the Board of Education for their confidence and support in allowing me to lead the students, employees and families of this incredible district.''

She said as the first Black woman to lead the district, she wants to “inspire students of all races and backgrounds to pursue their dreams by demonstrating what is possible in L.A. Unified.''

King said she plans to expand efforts to engage parents, LAUSD unions and other stakeholders to take an active effort in moving the district forward, and “create new pathways for all students and give them the tools they need to succeed.''

The board was expected to finalize her contract at its meeting Tuesday. The selection of King was unanimous.

She will inherit a district with a history of financial struggles, and one that is facing pressure from influential community leaders—notably philanthropist Eli Broad—to vastly expand the number of charter schools. The Board of Education on Tuesday was expected to consider a resolution opposing such an effort.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines retired from day-to-day operations of the district in December, and officially stepped aside Jan. 2. The board has been conducting a search for a replacement since August, while King has been serving as the interim leader of the district since Cortines stepped aside.

According to the district, King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools and Palms Junior High School. She graduated from Palisades High School and attended UCLA.

She began her teaching career at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills, teaching math and science, before becoming the math, science and aerospace coordinator at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School.

King also served as Cortines' chief of staff during his previous administration, then as a deputy under Superintendent John Deasy and again under Cortines following Deasy's departure.

Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the selection, saying she has dedicated her life to the district.

“Over the course of more than 30 years, she has led reform efforts to increase graduation rates, strengthen academic rigor and promote restorative justice,'' the mayor said. “Her historic selection will bring the first woman of color to this key leadership role, inspiring thousands of girls throughout our city. I am eager to partner with her in this new role as we work to improve outcomes for all students in Los Angeles.''