School Board to appoint Fairheart interim superintendent

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The Chesterfield County School Board announced today that it intends to appoint former Middlesex County School Superintendent Donald “Rusty” Fairheart as Chesterfield County Public Schools’ interim superintendent during a special-called meeting on May 29.

Fairheart has served as Chesterfield County Public Schools’ Chief of Staff, with oversight of day-to-day operations, since joining the school division in 2016. Prior to joining the school division, he was executive director for the multijurisdictional Southeastern Cooperative Education Program (SECEP) in Norfolk. Fairheart served as superintendent in Middlesex County from 2007-11.

“The School Board is excited to have a leader with Mr. Fairheart’s credentials ready to continue our important work,” School Board Chair John Erbach said. “Since joining us, Mr. Fairheart has immersed himself in our school division’s efforts, and we have full confidence in his ability to close out the current school year strong and continue preparations for the 2018-19 school year.”

“Mr. Fairheart has been and will continue to be a strong champion for our schools, and we look forward to working with him as we continue to make the education of our students and the support of our staff our top priorities,” School Board Vice Chair Rob Thompson added.

“I am humbled to be chosen to lead a school division already recognized as a state and national leader in public education,” Fairheart said. “Every day, my primary focus will be on how we can best support each student and every staff member in our award-winning school division. Serving as chief of staff has allowed me to work closely with the School Board, and I am keenly aware of the expectations our community has for this school division.”

Fairheart holds a Master’s in Business Education degree from Old Dominion University, a Master’s of Art degree from Hampton University, a post Master’s Certification in Educational Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Radford University and has taken coursework for a Doctorate of Educational Policy and Leadership from Virginia Tech. His career started as a special education teacher with SECEP and as an instructional specialist for York County Public Schools, and later served as assistant director of special education and director of assessment for Gloucester County Public Schools.

Fairheart will take over from Dr. James Lane, who announced his intention to accept Governor Ralph Northam’s appointment as State Superintendent of Public Instruction effective June 1.

“Chesterfield County Public Schools is highly respected across our great state, and we are proud that the Governor has chosen our own superintendent for state leadership,” Midlothian District School Board member Dr. Javaid Siddiqi said. “Two years ago, our School Board engaged the community as we developed the leadership traits and qualities that we wanted in the next school superintendent, and we found those qualities in Dr. Lane.”

“The School Board has built a dynamic leadership team during Dr. Lane’s tenure,” Clover Hill District School Board representative Dianne Smith said. “This leadership team has the same skill sets and desired leadership qualities that our community values.  Mr. Fairheart’s strong leadership, broad range of experiences, and commitment to our shared vision for tomorrow’s schools will allow for a seamless transition”

“This is an important time for our school division,” Bermuda District School Board representative Carrie Coyner added. “Mr. Fairheart’s knowledge and understanding of the opportunities in front of us will be beneficial as we develop a new strategic plan, transition school operating times, open new schools and plan for additional school rebuilds and integrate redistricted school boundaries.”

The May 29 meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the Public Meeting Room, located at 10001 Iron Bridge Road. At that meeting, the School Board will vote to accept Dr. Lane’s resignation and officially vote to name Fairheart the interim superintendent.