The Chesterfield County School Board announced Thursday, May 24, 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 Tuesday, May 29.
Fairheart will replace James Lane, who is leaving to become the state superintendent of public instruction. Lane has been in the post since July 1, 2016.
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 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.”
“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 degree 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 at SCEP 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.
“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.”
“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 school board called a special meeting for 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 29 to accept Lane’s resignation and vote to name Fairheart the interim superintendent.