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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.”

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents the district’s teachers, issued a statement saying King has extensive knowledge working with the district, and “brings a track record of collaborative efforts to build a strong educator, parent, community and youth coalition to strengthen and build the schools the LA students deserve.”

“This a watershed moment for the city of Los Angeles to have someone educated in the district, who has worked in the district her entire time as a teacher administrator and now as superintendent. It is really a a story of achieve that sets an example for all students and shows that if you apply yourself this is what you can do,” said Jewett Walker, advisor to board member George McKenna and president of the Los Angeles chapter of 100 Black Men, which created the Young Black Scholars mentoring program that partners with the LAUSD.

Meeting the needs of African American students is another major challenge King will have to address. For example, the graduation rate of Black students, which jumped 17 percent in the 2013-14 to 71 percent overall. However that trails Latinos who rate is 76 percent; Whites at 84 percent and Asians at 87 percent and reclassified English Learners at 85 percent .

Additionally, a Harvard University study found that only an estimated 51 percent of Black students in the class of 2011 graduated on time, compared with 57 percent for Latinos, 70 percents for Whites and 77 percent for Asians.

And according top a UCLA study, even the best school in the African American community, King Drew Medical Magnet in 2011, had only 39 percent of its students complete the A-G requirements that would make them eligible to attend college.

While acknowledging the challenges, Walker stressed that the community needs to come together to cooperatively and collaboratively support King in order to make sure her goals are achieved.