James Bryant is running in the 2018 special election for a school board seat following his appointment as an interim member. Credit: Credit: Josh Mandell, Charlottesville Tomorrow
The Charlottesville School Board on Wednesday appointed James Bryant, a retired teacher and school counselor, as an interim member to fill a vacancy until the general election Nov. 6. 
Former School Board member Adam Hastings moved to Albemarle County with his family in March, immediately ending his eligibility to serve. On Wednesday, Hastings was named the incoming principal of Walker Upper Elementary School.
Superintendent Rosa Atkins said the city school division will petition the Charlottesville Circuit Court to issue a writ ordering a special election to fill the School Board vacancy on Election Day. 
The winner of the special election would be sworn in immediately. Their seat will be up for election again in November 2019. Bryant said he plans to run for election to his seat this November. 
Bryant, who turned 64 on Wednesday, taught music for more than two decades in several school divisions including Charlottesville. He worked as a counselor at Charlottesville High School for five years until his retirement in 2016.
Bryant also is a member of Charlottesville’s 10th and Page Community Development Block Grant Street Task Force.
“I am surprised and elated by the School Board’s decision,” Bryant said. “My passion has always been children and students. … I want Charlottesville to continue to provide a 21st-century school system that will serve all children.”
Bryant earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University and holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. He graduated from Charlottesville’s Lane High School in 1972.
During a public meeting on Wednesday, School Board members narrowed down the field of 11 applicants by marking their top three choices in an online spreadsheet. Bryant, Selena Cozart, Emily Dooley and Lashundra Bryson Morsberger advanced to the second round of deliberations.
Dooley was eliminated from contention after School Board members chose their top two candidates from the remaining four. In the final round of informal voting, five School Board members selected Bryant as their top choice. School Board member Jennifer McKeever chose Morsberger.
“Mr. Bryant has been here in so many different capacities for so long,” said School Board member Sherry Kraft. “I think we will have a lot to learn from him.”
The School Board voted, 6-0, to make Bryant’s appointment official.

Josh Mandell graduated from Yale in 2016 and has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association with five awards for education writing, health, science and environmental writing and multimedia reporting.