School & District Management

L.A. Unified Superintendent to Step Down Amid Cancer Fight

By Corey Mitchell — January 05, 2018 1 min read
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Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King, who began a months-long medical leave for cancer treatment in the fall, will not return to her job leading the nation’s second-largest school district.

King plans to retire by June 30, leaving a district she has led since 2016 and worked in for more than three decades.

“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. As I aggressively fight this illness, I ask that you continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers,” King wrote in a prepared statement released Friday.

“With the collaboration of our students, parents, employees, board members, and community partners, our district will continue to close the opportunity and achievement gaps and provide a high-quality education for our future leaders.”

With King’s departure, officials in the nation’s two largest school districts are now in the market for new leaders. New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced her plans to retire in late December.

A Los Angeles native and product of the school system, King began a career in education after majoring in biology at the Univeristy of California, Los Angeles. She spent her entire 33-year career in L.A. Unified, rising through the ranks from her first job as a middle school math and science teacher.

When King took over as superintendent, she became the first woman in more than 80 years, and the first African-American woman, to lead the sprawling school system.

“Having dedicated her career to the district, it is now time for Dr. King to focus her incredible strength and energy on her health. We wholeheartedly support her decision to retire, and will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers as she faces the challenges ahead,” the L.A. Unified school board wrote in a statement.

Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, who took the helm during King’s medical leave, will continue to lead the school system. King began her medical leave in September.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.