LOS ANGELES — A day after hiring Michelle King as the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the school board finalized a contract with her Jan. 12.
The board reviewed the contract behind closed doors then unanimously approved it in open session. King then received a standing ovation from the board and audience members.
The pact sets King’s salary at $350,000 a year, and the contract runs through June 30, 2018. It also provides King a district-owned car and driver.
King, 54, was announced Jan. 11 as the board’s choice to succeed Ramon Cortines as superintendent. She has been with the district for 31 years as a teacher and administrator. She is the first woman to lead the district in more than 80 years and the first black woman to ever lead the nation’s second-largest school district.
“What a historic moment this is,” LAUSD school board President Steven Zimmer said Jan. 11 after the board unanimously voted to appoint King to replace Ramon Cortines. “A daughter of our city, a student and graduate of LAUSD, a teacher from our schools, a principal from our system, a leader of our community will now take the helm with us together to lead this district, our schools and our community for breakthroughs in public education for the students that need us the most.”
“I am honored and proud to be selected as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District,” King said. “I again want to thank the Board of Education for their confidence and support in allowing me to lead the students, employees and families of this incredible district.”
She said as the first black woman to lead the district, she wants to “inspire students of all races and backgrounds to pursue their dreams by demonstrating what is possible in L.A. Unified.”
King said she plans to expand efforts to engage parents, LAUSD unions and other stakeholders to take an active effort in moving the district forward, and “create new pathways for all students and give them the tools they need to succeed.”
She inherits a district with a history of financial struggles, and one that is facing pressure from influential community leaders — notably philanthropist Eli Broad — to vastly expand the number of charter schools.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines retired from day-to-day operations of the district in December, and officially stepped aside Jan. 2. The board has been conducting a search for a replacement since August, while King has been serving as the interim leader of the district since Cortines stepped aside.
King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools and Palms Junior High School. She graduated from Palisades High School and attended UCLA.
She began her teaching career at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills, teaching math and science, before becoming the math, science and aerospace coordinator at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills.
She served as Cortines’ chief of staff during his previous administration, then as a deputy under Superintendent John Deasy and again under Cortines following Deasy’s departure.
Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the selection, saying King has dedicated her life to the district.
“Over the course of more than 30 years, she has led reform efforts to increase graduation rates, strengthen academic rigor and promote restorative justice,” the mayor said. “Her historic selection will bring the first woman of color to this key leadership role, inspiring thousands of girls throughout our city. I am eager to partner with her in this new role as we work to improve outcomes for all students in Los Angeles.”
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents the district’s teachers, issued a statement saying King has extensive knowledge working with the district, and “brings a track record of collaborative efforts to build a strong educator, parent, community and youth coalition to strengthen and build the schools the L.A. students deserve.”