LOS ANGELES (CNS) - All flags at Los Angeles Unified School District properties will be flown at half-staff until Wednesday in honor of former Superintendent Michelle King, who died of cancer Saturday at the age of 57.
“Dr. King was a Los Angeles Unified student who found her passion in education and dedicated her life to making sure others received a great education,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement released this morning. “We at Los Angeles Unified, and all in our community, are grateful for her leadership and commitment. And on behalf of the many, many students, teachers, and administrators whose lives she helped make better, thank you.”
King, who began her education career as a teacher's aide, ascended to the top spot at the LAUSD in January 2016, becoming the first African American woman to lead the nation's second-largest school district. She went on medical leave in September of the following year, then announced in January 2018 that she was battling cancer and would not be returning to her job.
United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents more than 35,000 teachers and health and human services professionals who work in the LAUSD and at charter schools, issued a statement calling King's death “a terrible loss --
for her family, for her community, and for the Los Angeles Unified School District.”
“King made education her life's work, and she was devoted to upholding a public school system that serves all students,” the UTLA statement says. “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.”
The LAUSD Board of Education issued a joint statement over the weekend thanking King “for 33 years as an exemplary educator, inspirational role model and steadfast leader.”
King, who held a doctorate from the USC Rossier School of Education, got her undergraduate degree in biology from UCLA and a master's degree in administration from Pepperdine University. The mother of three daughters was educated in LAUSD schools, attending Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools, Palms Junior High and Palisades High School.