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The Role of the County Office of Education



The primary purpose of a County Office of Education (COE) is to act as a helpful support system for local school districts, offering valuable services, leadership and oversight.

In California, the public education system is structured into three different levels: state, county and local. The state level sets important regulations, funding and policies through the California department of Education and the State Board of Education; the county level is where COEs operate and assist school districts in their mission to provide quality education to students; and the local level is where school districts take care of the day-to-day educational needs of students. 

Together, all three levels contribute to student success.

COEs offer a wide range of support services to school districts and play a vital role in enhancing academic performance through various initiatives, empowering school staff through professional development opportunities and ensuring school districts remain fiscally responsible and secure.

Most COEs also actively support student events, arts and outdoor education, as well as operate programs that directly serve non-traditional students — for example, students who have been expelled, incarcerated or on probation, students with significant special needs and early learners.

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The California Department of Education, State Board of Education and state legislature make up the state level and are responsible for regulations, funding and policies. 

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The 58 different County Offices of Education throughout California make up the county level and serve as support systems for their local school districts and as liaisons for the state.

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There are more than 1,000 individual school districts throughout the state that make up the local level and are responsible for the day-today education of students.

MCOE does not directly govern local school districts

Merced County Office of Education serves as an oversight agency for school district budgets and Local Control and Accountability Plans, coordinates teacher credentialing and the county-wide substitute teacher list and hears student expulsion appeals from school districts.

MCOE does...

  • Ensure school districts are fiscally accountable and solvent
  • Approve school district Local Control and Accountability Plans 
  • Provide professional development opportunities 
  • Provide high-quality outdoor education programs 
  • Host student events and academic competitions 
  • Assist districts with expanded learning opportunities 
  • Serve Migrant Education students and families in three counties 
  • Manage Head Start and Child Care Subsidy Programs 
  • Operate Wired Café and serve students with special needs in all 20 school districts 
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What exactly does a County Superintendent of Schools do?

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The main role of the County Superintendent is to build a network of support for students across all 20 school districts in Merced County.

The County Superintendent does not directly oversee the local school districts or their superintendents. Instead, each local board of education is elected and charged with that responsibility.

Some of the duties shared by all 58 County Superintendents are oversight of school district budgets, approval of district Local Control and Accountability Plans and supervision of the education for incarcerated students.

Charged with the responsibility to provide support for districts as they implement the latest curriculum frameworks adopted by the State Board of Education, the County Superintendent is also the most recognized advocate for youth when it comes to keeping Sacramento and local elected officials aware of students’ needs.

Today’s County Superintendent has to understand current pedagogy and support the science of improvement and be willing to take on tough issues in dealing with the problem of poverty and how it impacts student performance. The County Superintendent is responsible for the entire MCOE operation as all MCOE employees are employed by the superintendent, not the County School Board.

Roles and Duties of the Superintendent

  • Elected to 4-year term - no term limit 
  • Chief Executive of Merced County Office of Education 
  • Serves as Executive Director of Virginia Smith Trust 
  • Advocates for Students in Sacramento 

Serves on boards and committees that advocate for students the K-12 public school system, including: 

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates 
  • Workforce Investment Board 
  • Merced County Education Foundation 
  • Continuum of Care 
  • Association of California School Administrators 
  • Central Valley Education Coalition