LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Michelle King, the first African-American woman to head the nation’s second-largest school district as the next superintendent. Her appointment also places her as the first woman in more than 80 years to hold the position.

“This is a historical moment for L.A. Unified,” said board member Mónica Ratliff, who represents District 6. “Superintendent King is a graduate of L.A. Unified. She has been an L.A. Unified teacher, principal and administrator, who has devoted 31 years to L.A. Unified’s students, staff, parents, and community. It is an honor to be able to share in the announcement that this smart, thorough, transparent, organized, firm, diligent, and compassionate woman is our new Superintendent. I look forward to continuing to support her as she leads this District to even greater success.”

King’s contract runs through June 30, 2018, where she will earn $350,000 annually and will also be provided with a District-owned car and driver. There is no buyout clause within the contract, states a L.A. Unified School District press release.

The announcement of King’s selection was made on Monday, January 11, after a nationwide search began in October for a successor to fill the position of retired Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. King has most recently been serving as the Chief Deputy Superintendent under Ramon Cortines. During Cortines absence, King had been the acting superintendent.

A Los Angeles native and LAUSD attendee, King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills Elementary schools and Palms Junior High before graduating from Palisades High School.

“I love the energy of students in the classroom – their passion for learning and their desire to achieve,” Ms. King said. “I want to ensure that the enthusiasm for teaching and learning that I experienced in LAUSD – and that my three daughters experienced when they were in school – is the reality for all of our students.”

A UCLA graduate with a major in biology, King, 54, has been a teacher and educator in LA. Unified for her entire 31-year-career, starting off as a science and math teacher at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills. She became the coordinator for the math, science and aerospace magnet at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills.

“Ms. King’s dedication to this District and her commitment to student achievement is second to none,” said School Board President Steve Zimmer. “The Board looks forward to working with her in reaching our goal of academic success for all.”

King was recently honored as the 2015 Woman of The Year by the nonprofit organization Women on Target, an advocacy group known for supporting leaders in Southern California’s African-American community.