The California Department of Education was founded by the combined efforts of William Stephens and the 1921 California state legislature. Earlier regulatory bodies over schools in California date back to the original founding of the state in 1849.
The California Department of Education was formally established in 1921, by legislation signed into law by then-governor William Stephens. However, it is important to note that California's educational system predated this event, and a de facto department of education had been operating since the late 18th century. Before the Department's formal establishment, schooling in California was regulated by a superintendent. The office of superintendent was founded by the framers of the Californian constitution.