Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King died Saturday at the age of 57, the district announced.
“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,” the district’s statement said. “Her dedication to uplift every student, family and employee within Los Angeles Unified was second to none.
“As a Los Angeles Unified graduate, parent, life-long educator, and the first African American woman to lead the district, Dr. King was truly an inspiration. She was a collaborative and innovative leader who broke down barriers to create more equitable opportunities for every student. Her warmth, love and generosity transformed countless lives and left a legacy that will continue to impact us for generations.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Dr. King’s daughters, parents and brother, as well as all of her family and friends whose lives she so deeply and positively touched.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised King’s contribution to local education.
“Dr. Michelle King’s life and career encapsulated what it means to be an Angeleno: excellence, kindness, integrity, service above self,” Garcetti tweeted. “She devoted her entire professional life to students in Los Angeles, and led our school district with all of the passion, skill and determination that it takes to be a powerful fighter for young people and their dreams. 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 L.A.’s schools the best in America. 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.”
King became LAUSD superintendent in January 2016. In September of the following year she went on medical leave, then announced in January 2018 that had cancer and would not be returning to her job.
King did not specify the type of cancer for which she was being treated.
“I am very thankful for the outpouring of support I have received from the entire L.A. Unified family, our community partners and my colleagues across the nation,” she said in 2018. “As I aggressively fight this illness, I ask that you continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers.”
Members of the district’s Board of Education issued a joint statement thanking King “for 33 years as an exemplary educator, inspirational role model and steadfast leader.”
“Having dedicated her career to the district, it is now time for Dr. King to focus her incredible strength and energy on her health,” the board statement said. “We wholeheartedly support her decision to retire, and will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers as she faces the challenges ahead.”
King earned a doctorate in May from the USC Rossier School of Education. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in administration from Pepperdine University. She was educated in LAUSD schools, attending Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools, Palms Junior High School and Palisades High School.