Michelle King Named New LAUSD Superintendent
Yesterday evening, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted unanimously to hire longtime district teacher, principal and administrator Michelle King to become the district's next superintendent. King’s selection comes after the district spent nearly $250,000 on a national search for a candidate to replace then interim superintendent, Ramon C. Cortines. No one wanted the job. A Miami superintendent denied LAUSD’s offer, as did a school's chief from Montgomery County, Maryland who apparently called LAUSD "a total mess," according to the L.A. Times.
Cortines, who had already served two terms as district superintendent, assumed the role after past superintendent John Deasy resigned in October of 2014. Deasy quit amidst controversy surrounding his pricey choice to give every LAUSD student an iPad, as well as significant problems with the district’s then new MiSiS scheduling and student information system.
When school started in 2014, thousands of students across the district ended up spending weeks sitting in school auditoriums, killing time while the district attempted to resolve scheduling issues with its new computer system. Deasy resigned before the issue was fully resolved.
King, however, was present as a senior administrator, and has spent her entire career employed by the district in some capacity. She started professional work in the district in 1985, as a life-sciences teacher at Porter Junior High School, in Granada Hills. She worked as a teacher there, as well as at Wright Middle School in South L.A. Then, in 1997, she was promoted to assistant principal at Alexander Hamilton High in Castle Heights, just north of Culver City.
She soon became the school’s principal, where she was praised for stable leadership in lieu of an apparently turbulent campus past, according to the L.A. Times.
Following work as principal, King occupied several district administrator roles over the decade, eventually finding herself as the district’s chief deputy superintendent under both Deasy and Cortines.
Though King's philosophy when it comes to governing the district is, for the most part, relatively unknown to those who don't know her, the district's decision to choose an insider may indicate a focus on the nitty-gritty details of educating 650,000 students.
“I want to be a role model for students who look like me,” she said during last night's board meeting, according to L.A. School Report. King is the district's first black female superintendent, as well as the first woman to be in charge since 1929.
She also explained how she intends to ensure expanded arts education, and more rigorous college preparatory procedures.
Past choices, notably Deasy, have arrived on a white-horse, preaching sweeping changes for the troubled school district. In choosing King, the district indicates an institutional shift away sweeping change, perhaps towards stability and a more nuts-and-bolts solution.
As for Deasy, he was hired by Eli Broad as a consultant to the the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as one of the organization's two superintendents-in-residence. Last June, Broad announced a $490 million plan to place more than half of LAUSD's students into charter schools over the next decade.
Speaking of King's appointment, school board member Scott Schmerelson explained to the Daily News how “This is a breath of fresh air.” He continued, saying how she is “someone who isn’t beholden to big business” and “someone who doesn’t have the privatization of schools in mind.”
Godspeed Ms. King. You have your work cut out for you.
Editor's note: a previous version of this story said King was the first black superintendent of LAUSD. In fact, she is the first black, female superintendent. We apologize for the error.