Former LAUSD Superintendent Loses Battle to Cancer

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

All flags at Los Angeles Unified School District buildings were flown at half-staff until Wednesday, February 6, in honor of Dr. Michelle King, the former LAUSD superintendent who died of cancer on Saturday at the age of 57.

“Words cannot begin to describe the sorrow we feel, the love we shared with—and for—Dr. King, and the lasting impact she had on our communities,” a statement from the LAUSD said. “Her dedication to uplift every student, family and employee within Los Angeles Unified was second to none.”

King was a Palisades Charter High School alumnus and went on to receive a doctorate from the USC Rossier School of Education after getting her undergraduate degree in biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in administration from Pepperdine University.

Starting her education career as a teacher’s aide, King reached the highest position of superintendent of LAUSD in 2016. King became the first African-American woman to lead the country’s second-largest school district.

After announcing a medical leave in September the following year, King announced in January 2018 that she would be leaving her post as superintendent due to a battle with cancer. Her position was later filled by Palisadian Austin Beutner.

“Michelle King’s passing is a terrible loss—for her family, for her community and for the Los Angeles Unified School District,” United Teachers Los Angeles union said in a statement. “King made education her life’s work, and she was devoted to upholding a public school system that serves all students.

“As the first African-American woman to be LAUSD superintendent, she blazed a trail for our future. Our condolences to her family and to those whose lives she touched during her long career.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently mediated teachers’ strike negotiations between LAUSD and UTLA, issued a statement of his own.

“Michelle’s extraordinary achievements—record graduation rates, putting higher education within reach for all families and creating new opportunities for our kids to be on pathways to careers—should inspire each one of us to be part of the mission to make LA’s schools the best in America,” Garcetti wrote. “Amy and I are deeply saddened by her passing, and send our love and prayers to Michelle’s daughters, her parents and brother, and the entire LAUSD family.”

City News Service contributed to this report.