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LAUSD turns to district ‘lifer’ Michelle King as new superintendent

Craig Clough | January 11, 2016

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LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer introduces Michelle King as the district's new superintendent.

LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer introduces Michelle King as the district’s new superintendent.

Michelle King, the new LA Unified superintendent, is a district “lifer,” having worked all of her professional career in the district as a teacher, principal, magnet coordinator and top administrator. She also is a product of LA Unified, having attended Palisades High School.

King, 54, served as senior deputy superintendent of school operations under former Superintendent John Deasy from 2011 to 2014, and was given the title chief deputy superintendent of schools when Ramon Cortines took over shortly after Deasy resigned. In both roles she was effectively the No. 2 administrator for the district.

Cortines retired in December, and the board named King acting superintendent.

According to LAUSD, King began her career with the district in 1984 as a science and health teacher at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills before serving as magnet coordinator at Orville Wright Math, Science and Aerospace Magnet Middle School in Westchester and principal of Hamilton High School in West L.A.

As an administrator, she has worked in numerous roles, including head of Student Health and Human Services, Local District 3 superintendent and chief of staff to the superintendent. King holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s from Pepperdine University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at USC.

As deputy superintendent, King served short periods as acting superintendent, especially when she worked under Deasy, according to the Los Angeles Times. In April 2014, she also organized the district’s early emergency response when a bus carrying students on a college visit crashed in Orland, killing 10, including one LA Unified student. Several district students were also injured in the crash.

She also appeared at the district’s final press conference last month to announce that schools would repoen after a threat of violence closed down the entire district for a day.

As speculation began to swirl in September of 2014 that Deasy’s tenure may be coming to an end, King turned some heads when she forwarded a letter to all seven school board members that said she would be willing to take the reins should the board move to fire Deasy. Deasy ended up resigning several weeks later and the board opted to bring in Cortines as interim superintendent, but one senior official told LA School Report they were taken aback by the letter’s unexpected delivery.

Cortines kept King on as his deputy, although he was at times critical of Deasy’s leadership decisions and transferred or demoted several of his predecessors top officials.  In August, board President Steve Zimmer gave King a strong vote of confidence, calling her a “top candidate” to replace Cortines.

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