Lee High School Principal Abe Jeffers said he is leaving Fairfax County to join the Richmond public school system as an administrator overseeing sixth- through 12th-grade education.

Jeffers, who has served as principal at Lee in Springfield since 2009, said he will resign from Fairfax on May 23 and begin his new job May 27. Jeffers said he had applied for the position within the Richmond administration to work with new Superintendent Dana T. Bedden, who took over in January.

“I’ve thought about opportunities beyond the principalship and had my eye on things,” Jeffers said. “I’ve been watching what Dr. Bedden’s been up to in Richmond and I thought, ‘This might be a good guy to work for and really change things.’ ”

Jeffers will serve as executive director of secondary education, overseeing nearly half of the school system’s 22,000 students. He is one of four new administrators to join the Richmond city school system in recent weeks, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Another is Anthony Leonard, principal at Kerrydale Elementary in Prince William County, who will serve as director of elementary schools, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Jeffers said he was looking forward to the new opportunity in Richmond. “It’s going to be a challenge,” Jeffers said. “I hope to help turn Richmond around and make it a showcase school system.”

A native of Oneida, Tenn., Jeffers received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tenneessee and later earned a master’s from the University of Virginia. Jeffers was hired by Fairfax County in 2005 and spent time as an assistant principal at McLean High and at Stuart High before leading Lee.

In a letter to parents, Jeffers wrote that during his tenure at Lee, the graduation rate has increased in four out of his five years. The school has one of the county’s highest populations of students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals, a federal measure of poverty. In addition, Jeffers wrote, a growing percentage of the student body has enrolled in IB courses, and the number of suspensions and recommendations for expulsions have dropped.

Jeffers will resign before graduation but said he intends to attend the celebration.

“It’s tough to say goodbye,” Jeffers said. “It’s been an incredible place to be.”

Jeffers will be replaced by interim principal Charles Miller, who is an assistant principal at Key Middle School, a feeder for Lee. Jeffers said that a new principal for Lee probably will be picked before July.