The County Superintendent is elected by the voters of Sonoma County. The Superintendent is a state constitutional officer who acts as a liaison for local school districts and the state. The Superintendent provides leadership, support, and state-designated fiscal and program oversight for the county's 40 school districts and their more than 68,000 students. This position also serves as the chief executive officer of the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE).
Get to know the superintendent
Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D., was elected Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools in 2010. He took office on January 3, 2011, and began a second term in office on January 2, 2015. His third term began January 7, 2019. He is a native Californian who began his career in education as a history teacher. He served as superintendent for three Northern California school districts. In these positions, he gained experience in rural, suburban, and urban settings. He has led educational services for students from pre-kindergarten through high school. Prior to his election, he was superintendent of Windsor Unified School District.
Dr. Herrington is a Vietnam Era veteran who served in the United States Army and National Guard. He is a widower and lives in Windsor. He has two grown children, both graduates of California public schools and its university system. His daughter is a project director supporting charter school teacher induction for the North Coast School of Education in the east bay. His son works as an account manager for a technology company in Denver.
As county superintendent Dr. Herrington and the programs he oversees have received national, state, and local recognition. This includes:
- Equity/Social Justice:
- SCOE is strongly committed to promoting racial justice, confronting bias, and fostering tolerance—both within the organization and within the broader school community. This includes:
- Under Dr. Herrington's leadership, beginning in 2021, all SCOE staff will receive professional development opportunities to support equity, cultural awareness, and social justice within the organization. SCOE is also committed to maintaining systems that recognize and promote individuals, value people, and are sensitive to the diversity within the workplace.
- In 2020, SCOE hosted a virtual series, Student Voices on Racism, Equity, and Social Justice, that allowed students to speak to educators about their experiences and ideas for change within the local school system.
- Recognizing the need for more diversity in the teacher workforce, Dr. Herrington instituted a teacher diversity scholarship program. The program provides "full ride" scholarships to diverse teacher candidates in order to encourage more teachers of color, male teachers, and LGBTQ teachers.
- Provide leadership on social justice issues in education through editorials and position papers.
- Employer Sponsored Child Care:
- Dedicated SCOE property to house an employer-sponsored childcare center to meet the high demand for childcare in Sonoma County.
- Leadership in Maker Education:
- Received on behalf of SCOE a special recognition by the White House for SCOE's Maker Certificate program for teachers
- Received recognition from the director of NASA's Langley Research Center for SCOE's leadership in maker education
- Funded the creation of SCOE's Mobile Learning Lab
- Funded creation of a state-of-the-art Design Lab at SCOE to instruct teachers and students in make activities
- Under his leadership, more than 230 maker programs were developed in local schools
- Fostering Student Achievement:
- Supported English learner, career technical education, college preparedness, and other initiatives that helped Sonoma County school districts collectively raise the graduation rate by nearly 10 points for all students and 15 points for Latino students (equal to white counterparts)
- Supported districts in increasing the number of students who are graduating high school having met the requirements needed to attend a state college or university
- Oversaw efforts that reduced the high school dropout rate
- Tackling Teacher Housing Costs:
- Initiated several projects and partnerships to address the high cost of teacher housing in Sonoma County
- As of June 2021, conducting design and feasibility study for 40-60 housing units for school and public employees
- Addressing the Teacher Shortage:
- Wrote editorials and calls to action predicting a statewide teacher shortage after the Great Recession
- In 2016, established a teacher training center, the North Coast School of Education, which has already placed dozens of qualified and supported teacher-interns in local classrooms where the need is greatest. Currently has over 2000 local candidates enrolled in teacher and administrator credentialing programs.
- Educational Leadership:
- Initiated fully funded scholarship for teacher candidates who are culturally or ethnically diverse
- Received highest honor, the Executive Leadership Award, from the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCESA) for his leadership of Sonoma County schools during the 2017 wildfires as well as his willingness to assist other counties when disaster struck their regions.
- Served as state officer in the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCESA)
- Facilitated successful adoption of a new state funding model and accountability system (Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans) by Sonoma County School Districts
- Completed high-speed internet connectivity to Sonoma County public schools, from Kashia on the county's far north coast to Liberty school in Petaluma.
- Supported Measure O, a successful mental health initiative to expand mental health services in schools and the community
- Initiated a continuous improvement model for the Sonoma County Office of Education in collaboration with the Studer Foundation
- Provided testimony to the California state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives regarding the impact of large-scale disasters on schools and the effects of trauma on its citizens
- Served on several state and national panels regarding school crisis response, including the California Department of Education, Association of California School Administrators, California School Board Association, and the Association of Educational Service Agencies
Dr. Herrington has been recognized with numerous awards since becoming County Superintendent. These include:
- Perpetual Award for Outstanding Accomplishments from the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (2019)
- Changemakers Award in Education from 10,000 Degrees, a regional nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the college success of disadvantaged students (2019)
- Top honor from the California Emergency Services Association (CESA) for “outstanding service in the field of emergency management." (2019)
As a district superintendent, Dr. Herrington was recognized with several state and national awards. These included:
- A National School Boards Association Magna Award
- Four California School Boards Association Golden Bell Awards
- Eight Distinguished School Awards from the California Department of Education
- California Governor’s Award for Community Service Collaboration
The county superintendent's education initiatives have focused on service to students, service to districts, and service to the community. He believes that one of the best ways to maximize support for education is through community-linked collaborative projects. Current projects are focused on the following educational priorities:
- Continuous improvement support for schools and districts
- California State Standards support for schools and districts
- Financial and economic stability through oversight and support of schools and districts
- College and career readiness for Sonoma County students through support of academically rigorous and relevant career and college preparation
- School success for English Learners
- Social justice and equity
- Service to youth and community
Dr. Herrington ensures that SCOE focuses its efforts on the key areas listed above in order to best serve schools, students, and community. Each year, he sets an Educational Agenda for the Sonoma County Office of Education. Then, his leadership team set performance goals for themselves and their departments linked to that agenda.
In 2015-16, he set the goal of creating a training center to provide working adults with the training and support they need to earn a teaching credential. This effort was in response to Sonoma County’s growing teacher shortage.The new training center is called the North Coast School of Education. This accredited program currently offers more than 200 adults the opportunity to earn a teaching or administrative services credential. Dr. Herrington is working with several local and state agencies to address the need for affordable teacher housing.
10,000 Degrees, Sonoma County Advisory Board
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, Executive Board
Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County
North Bay Leadership Council
Northern California Career Pathways Partnership
Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce
Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership
School and College Legal Services of California, JPA Board
Sonoma County Community Corrections Partnership
Sonoma County Education Coalition
Sonoma County Health Action
Sonoma County Innovation Council
Sonoma County Proposition 63 Mental Health Advisory Board
Sonoma County Redevelopment Agency Oversight Board
Sonoma County Upstream Investments, Executive Committee
Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board
United Way of the Wine Country, Board of Directors
Communications & Interagency Support
Staff in the county superintendent's office provide communications, public relations, and interagency support for SCOE. This includes: Print and electronic publications, news releases, social media communications, and the SCOE website. Staff also support communication between SCOE and county, state, and community groups that provide services to schools and students.
Questions may be directed to: