Michelle King Dies of Cancer
Dr. Michelle King, 57, former LAUSD Superintendent, died on Saturday after battling cancer for more than a year.
The 1979 Palisades High grad was hired as superintendent in January 2016. In September 2017, she went on medical leave to battle the disease. Four months later she retired.
After graduating from Pali and UCLA, King earned a master’s of science in administration from Pepperdine University and a doctorate in education at USC.
“King’s 38-year career spent working in LAUSD includes time working as a teaching assistant, a science and math teacher in Granada Hills, a coordinator for the math, science and aerospace magnet in Westchester, and as both assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills,” said LAUSD Director of Communications Shannon Haber, in a 2016 article by Laurel Busby.
King next went into district administration, including time as the chief administrator of secondary instruction, a local district superintendent, chief of staff to then-superintendent Ramon Cortines, senior deputy superintendent under former superintendent John Deasy, and a chief deputy superintendent for Cortines.
In December 2015, King was named “Woman of the Year” by the non-profit organization Women On Target, an advocacy group supporting leaders in Southern California’s African-American community.
In Busby’s story, she wrote that King had fond memories of her Palisades High days.
“Pali was an amazing community,” King said. “It was very diverse. I was bused as were my children.” Her three daughters also graduated from Pali.
While at Pali, King’s name was Michelle Brewster, and she participated on the drill team in 10th grade and was a cheerleader her junior year. King told Busby that the homecoming after she graduated, she returned to the school, as was the tradition. “I had my cheer outfit on, and I cheered at homecoming.”
Busby wrote: “On an alumni Facebook page, some of her classmates remember King as a strong math and science student, according to current PaliHi teacher Holly Korbonski, who also graduated in 1979. King went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from UCLA.”
LAUSD wrote in a released statement: “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.
“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.”