LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When Michelle King was named the first black female superintendent of the nation’s second-biggest school district in January, the reaction from friends wasn’t entirely enthusiastic.
“Many said to me, ‘Have you lost your mind? Can you take on this big challenge?'” King told CBS2’s Pat Harvey. “I approach it the same way as when I was a principal, or a local district superintendent, or a teacher. What I mean by that is from my heart.”
King, 55, was named superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District after an exhaustive and expensive talent search. Her annual salary is $354,000.
During the past two decades, LAUSD has had nine superintendents. Nearly all were men, and most were outsiders.
King has worked for LAUSD for 30 years. She started in the classroom.
“When I did graduate from college, I did note that here was a need in LA Unified for a science teachers,” King said. She was on her way to medical school but decided to take a detour into teaching at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills.
“It wasn’t something that I felt I had to work hard at,” King remembered. “I felt that I was able to pick it up, and then I just loved kids. I think that’s a big part of it, too.”
King was born in the Windsor Hills neighborhood near Ladera Heights. She was educated in LAUSD schools, attending Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools, Palms Junior High School and Palisades High School. King earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from UCLA, and a master’s degree in administration from Pepperdine University.
After she taught in Granada Hills, King rose to principal, regional administrator, then deputy superintendent in 2014. Her appointment as head of the district comes during a time of declining enrollment and massive budget shortfalls. Rumors are circulating within the district about school closures and consolidations. King will address those questions in part two of an exclusive interview with CBS2’s Par Harvey Wednesday night on CBS2 News at 11 p.m.