michelleking Los Angeles Unified School District
Michelle King, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District

Ailing Los Angeles school superintendent retires

Michelle King is being treated for cancer and has been on leave since September

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King, who has been on leave since September, says she is being treated for cancer and will retire by June 30 without returning to her job.

CBS Los Angeles reports King, the first black woman to serve as superintendent for the nation’s second-largest school district, did not disclose the nature of her illness when she went on medical leave in September. She has been superintendent since January 2016.

“I have been undergoing treatment for cancer,” King says. “Now, with the progression of my illness, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to retire by June 30. Until then, I will remain on medical leave.”

King did not specify the type of cancer for which she is 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. As I aggressively fight this illness, I ask that you continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers.”

Vivian Eckchian, who has been acting superintendent during King’s medical leave, will remain in that position pending a search for a new top executive, district officials sa

School board members 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 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 was educated in Los Angeles schools, attending Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools, Palms Junior High School and Palisades High School.

“I am honored to be a graduate of L.A. Unified and to have served this amazing district for the last 33 years,” King says. “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.”

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