LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For the first time in its history, the Los Angeles Unified School District has unanimously chosen an African American woman to serve as the new district superintendent.
The appointment of Michelle King, who will now head the second-largest school district in the country, was announced during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles Monday afternoon.
“As the first African American to head L.A. Unified, I am humbled to find myself in the company of such trailblazers as Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and Astronaut Mae Jemison,” King said.
At the age of 54, King has spent 31 years with the LAUSD as a teacher in Granada Hills and principal in Cheviot Hills.
Most recently, she served as the deputy superintendent under the now retired Ramon Cortines.
King says that her priorities include making sure LAUSD graduates can compete on a global level.
“Ensuring our kids get to college readiness and also 21st Century skill prepared,” she said.
But insiders say King faces big challenges, including how to bring in more revenue to the cash-strapped district and how to deal with a big push fueled by philanthropist Eli Broad to expand charter schools within Los Angeles.
Steve Zimmer, the LAUSD board president, says after an intense process, it was a unanimous vote to approve King.
“She has the heart and soul needed to bring our communities together in this critical moment in public education,” he said.
United Teachers Los Angeles released a statement that said in part:
“We look forward to working with Superintendent King, who brings a track record of collaborative efforts, to build a strong educator, parent, community and youth coalition to strengthen and build the schools that LA students deserve.”
King attended schools within the district since the age of 5 and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Science degree in administration from Pepperdine University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Southern California.
As the first black female superintendent, King says she considers herself a trailblazer and hopes to inspire all minority students.
“It shows students who look like me and others of the possibilities. It shows them what can be, what you can achieve, what you can aspire to do,” she said.
The board is expected to approve King’s contract when it meets Tuesday.