By Richard Sullins |

In a move that brought the curtain down on a struggle that has gone on for years, the Lee County Board of Education voted Tuesday to accept the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan, effective immediately. The board named Dr. Chris Dossenbach interim superintendent until a replacement for Bryan can be named.

The vote to accept Bryan’s resignation was unanimous. Dossenbach, who has served as the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, was sworn in immediately after the meeting by Harry Stryffler, a member of the Lee County Board of Elections.

Under the terms of the agreement between Bryan and the board, the former superintendent will receive a buy-out of the remainder of his employment contract in the amount of $90,000 and six months of continued insurance coverage. The contract buy-out will be paid from local unrestricted funds provided by the county.

The ending of Bryan’s employment has been sought by school board Republicans almost from the moment he was hired ten years ago. But until recently, the group lacked the clout and the votes needed to make it happen.

Bryan’s choice to resign brings to an end a conflict that accelerated in recent years.

Republicans pointed to him during the 2022 election as the root cause of problems within the 17 schools within the district. Bryan did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

The board also voted to instruct its Human Resources office to post the vacant superintendent’s position immediately and begin receiving applicants.

Bryan’s ascension as superintendent in 2013 came just as Lee County’s future arrived at a crossroads. As the county’s economy began to change from its historically agricultural base to one more centered around demands of science and manufacturing, it was Bryan who helped to steer the district’s curriculum to support new industries that were being recruited to locate bleeding-edge technology applications in Lee County.

But it was also his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that cast a shadow over his many accomplishments. While many in the community were pleased with his cautious approach that kept students out of the classroom for months, others disagreed and felt kids needed to be back in school, even though there were no vaccines or effective treatments available at that time and the best scientific minds believed then that isolation offered the best hopes of containing the outbreak.

Bryan came to Lee County Schools in 2006 as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, the same position Dossenbach has held. He is a graduate of Longwood College and the University of Virginia, where he received his master’s and doctoral degrees.

He began his career in education as a history teacher and coach in basketball and football, eventually becoming principal at Rockbridge County High School in the Shnandoah Valley along the western border of Virginia before making his way to North Carolina.