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The Clark County School Board Termination and Re-instatement of Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara

by Kali Fox Miller - December 2, 2021

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October 28, 2021 Regular Board Meeting

On October 22, 2021, Clark County School Board business item 3.01 was posted pursuant to NRS 386.330 at the written request of three Trustees for the Termination of the Employment Contract of Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the roles of the School Board and Superintendent, here are the main ways both must function together:

  • Superintendent is the only employee of the Board;

  • 'The Board sets policies, goals, and objectives for the District;

  • The superintendent is responsible for implementing the policies and achieving goals;

  • The relationship of the School Board and the Superintendent should provide the public with confidence that the District is being run professionally; and,

  • The Superintendent must meet the student's educational needs and the community's desires and aspirations for public schools.

History of the Superintendent Termination

July 2020

May 2021

December 2021

In July of 2020, members of the board moved to terminate the contract of Superintendent Dr. Jara for convenience amid the debate regarding the closing / re-opening of schools during the pandemic.  The meeting was ended before the vote was held.

Debate regarding the length of the Superintendent's contract came to a head on May of 2021, when the Board extended the contract of Superintendent Dr. Jara until January of 2023 after months of debate regarding the termination date of his contract. 

Superintendent Dr. Jara was due for a performance evaluation in December of 2021 pursuant to the terms of his contract. The contract allows for both no-cause and for-cause terminations.

Termination for Convenience by Board. The Board may terminate this Agreement by providing Dr. Jara with thirty (30) days of written notice of the termination. In the event of such notice, this Agreement shall be at an end on that 30th day. Dr. Jara shall be paid all salary and monetary equivalent of employee benefits owing to Dr. Jara hereunder until the end of the term or extension of this Agreement. . .

3.01 - The Vote

At the October 28, 2021 Regular Board Meeting of the School Board Trustees:

 

Trustee Danielle Ford moved to terminate the contract of the Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara for Convenience.

Trustee Lisa Schneider-Guzman provided a 2nd for the motion.

Vote:

Danielle Ford - Yes

Evelyn Garcia Morales - No

Irene A Cepeda - Yes

Katie Williams - No

Linda P. Cavazos - Yes

Lisa Schneider-Guzman - Yes

Lola Brooks – No

 

Motion Passed: 4-3

Statement of Dr. Jesus Jara upon Termination

“I want to be very clear. My focus never wavered from working every day to improve the well-being and academic success of our students,” Jara said after the vote by the trustees. “While some members of this board seek to continue and try to run the operations of this school district and micromanage me and undermine staff, I have been dedicated to protecting the staff from overreach and interference. My focus on student achievement and well-being have never and will never waiver in my career. Unfortunately, the majority of this board did not share the same vision for this community and the children will suffer because of it.”

November 4, 2021 Special Board Meeting

On November 4, 2021, the Clark County School Board called a Special Meeting where they were set to discuss business item 3.02 which was posted pursuant to NRS 386.330 at the written request of three Trustees to determine the Appointment Process for an Interim Superintendent.

The Vote

Trustee Danielle Ford moved to notify the public that the board is in search of an interim superintendent.

Trustee Lisa Schneider-Guzman provided a 2nd for the motion.

Vote:

Danielle Ford - Yes

Evelyn Garcia Morales - No

Irene A Cepeda -Abstain

Katie Williams - No

Linda P. Cavazos - Yes

Lisa Schneider-Guzman - Yes

Lola Brooks – No

 

Motion Failed: 4-3

When asked why she abstained, Trustee Irene Cepeda stated that too much had come out since the October 28, 2021, meeting for her to vote on this measure in good conscience. 

Following the statement of Trustee Irene Cepeda, Trustee Katie Williams moved to use the process of appointing one of the named Deputy Superintendents per the Emergency Procedure outlined by Dr. Jara.

Trustee Evelyn Garcia-Morales provided a 2nd for the motion.

President Linda P. Cavazos Motioned to Adjourn the meeting which superseded the vote and ended all discussion on this topic and the meeting.

 

Motion Failed: no vote

Statement of Trustee Irene Cepeda

After the November 4, 2021, meeting Trustee Irene Cepeda released the following statement regarding the events which led to the termination of the Superintendent for Convenience:

I've lost my own voice trying to find middle ground and consensus in a board so painfully divided.

The superintendent is not perfect, he has flaws. I have flaws. The superintendent is our only employee and the relationship has not been healthy.

Since the October 28th meeting, more and more troubling information has come out about the process of termination, his tenure, and work environment.

As a board we haven't taken responsibility for OUR contribution to CCSD's [Clark County School District] problem. We blame him for actions that could have been avoided if we had a good rapport and guided him away from potential pitfalls. In some cases, this board has maneuvered him right towards them.

Absolutely nothing will change unless this board changes, we have gone through the same 3-4 year superintendent cycle for the past 2 decades.

My vote to terminate for convenience was because there is a toxic environment the board continues to perpetuate and I could not see a path forward. No one deserves to work in a space like this.

I'm not perfect. I'm worn just like everyone else.

That's why I've asked to bring both these items: First an investigation, and second revisiting the vote on October 28th to correct an alleged OML [Open Meeting Law] violation.

So far my experiences on this board have been extremely toxic. We allow and justify unethical behavior. I won't stand by anymore.

Statement of Dr. Jesus Jara
upon Re-instatement

 "After last night’s vote by the Board of Trustees to reverse its prior termination decision, which would potentially allow me to continue as CCSD’s Superintendent, I am working with my legal counsel to review this development. Given the concerns that I have previously expressed, we intend to work with the Board and its legal counsel to determine if there is a pathway that would allow me to continue as Superintendent while also implementing appropriate assurances to address and eliminate the harassment and hostile work environment. No matter the outcome of this decision-making process, my focus on and commitment to our students and the District’s staff remains steadfast and will not waver."

November 18, 2021 Regular Board Meeting

On November 18, 2021, Clark County School Board posted several business items related to the termination of Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara.  Those items were as follows: 

 -  5.08: The Possible Selection of an Outside Expert to Conduct an Investigation into Allegations of a Hostile Work Environment.

 - 509: Reconsideration of Agenda Item 3.01 of the October 28, 2021, Meeting of the Board of Trustees.

 - 5.10: Item Posted Pursuant to NRS 386.330 (Written Request of Three Trustees): Termination of Employment Contract. 

*  5.11 Interim Superintendent Selection was also on the agenda for the November 18, 2021, meeting; however, this item was not discussed.

5.08 - The Vote

Trustee Evelyn Garcia-Morales moved to authorize up to 4 members who are not named in the demand letter to work with the purchasing department to identify and select a firm not to exceed $100k. Authorize the CFO to identify funds in the general budget. Work on a timeline and present it to the board after the firm is contracted. Like to embargo the information named in the claim until final results are reported. Embargo the investigation so that information named within the claim until final results are reported. Would like to ensure that all staff complies with the investigation.

Trustee Katie Williams provided a 2nd for the motion.

Trustee Lola Brook provided a Friendly Amendment to the motion to have the two officers who are not mentioned in the complaint work on the process regarding hiring an investigator and bring it back to the board for a vote.

Trustee Katie Williams provided a 2nd for the amendment and called the question.

Trustee Evelyn Garcia-Morales Amended her Motion to authorize the 2 officers who are not named in the demand letter to work with the purchasing department to identify and select a firm not to exceed $100k. Authorize the CFO to identify funds in the general budget. Work on a timeline and present it to the board after the firm is contracted. Like to embargo the information named in the claim until final results are reported. Embargo the investigation so that information named within the claim until final results are reported. Would like to ensure that all staff complies with the investigation.

Vote:

Lola Brooks – Yes

Linda P. Cavazos - No

Irene A Cepeda - Yes

Danielle Ford -  No

Evelyn Garcia Morales - Yes

Lisa Schneider-Guzman - No

Katie Williams - Yes

 

Motion Passed: 4-3

5.09 - The Vote

Trustee Katie Williams motioned to reconsider item 3.01 from the October 28, 2021 Regular Board meeting.  This reconsideration would mean that the Board of Trustees would be able to reconsider the vote which terminated the Superintendent's contract. 

Trustee Evelyn Garcia-Morales provided a 2nd for the motion.

Vote:

Danielle Ford - No

Evelyn Garcia Morales - Yes

Irene A Cepeda - Yes

Katie Williams - Yes

Linda P. Cavazos - No

Lisa Schnieder-Guzman - No

Lola Brooks – Yes

 

Motion Passed: 4-3

5.10 - The Vote

Trustee Evelyn Garcia-Morales motioned to not terminate the contract of the Superintendent for Convenience.  This vote had the power to undo the termination which occurred on October 28, 2021.

Trustee Katie Williams provided a 2nd for the motion and then Called the Question which results in an immediate vote without further discussion.

Vote:

Danielle Ford - No

Evelyn Garcia Morales - Yes

Irene A Cepeda - Yes

Katie Williams - Yes

Linda P. Cavazos - No

Lisa Schnieder-Guzman - No

Lola Brooks – Yes

 

Motion Passed: 4-3

Statement from the
Clark County School District

Superintendent Jara is still employed by the Clark County School District. As Dr. Jara previously stated on November 19th, "Given the concerns that I have previously expressed, we intend to work with the Board and its legal counsel to determine if there is a pathway that would allow me to continue as Superintendent."

Statement from
Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara

This afternoon I reached an agreement with the majority of the board on the best path forward for the 305,000 students of Clark County, and on Monday, December 6th I’ll return to serving our community as Superintendent.

Over the last five weeks, we’ve seen too much adult-centered attention instead of focusing on the 305,000 students we’re here to serve. As my team continued to lead our district – the 5th largest in America – through devastating pandemic-related learning disruptions and challenges for our students’ mental health, there were too many adult-centered distractions that caused instability for our students, parents, and our team. That is unacceptable; and now is the time to move forward. 

When I took this job three and a half years ago, I made a commitment to the students and families of this district, and over the past three and a half years, I’ve worked to create real solutions to some of our greatest challenges – staffing shortages, mental health, equity, and a safe return to in-person learning, among others. I’m proud of the work our team has done leading our system and our students through one of the greatest disruptions to their learning and well-being that any of us have ever faced, and my work here isn’t finished. 

There are too many children in this community that have been left behind. I won’t walk away from them. As an immigrant, and as a child who worked his way out of poverty through education, and as a parent, I understand what’s at stake for all the children we serve. That’s why starting on Monday, in this critical moment, we’re going to continue working day and night to make sure that we re-center our focus on our students’ safety, mental health, and unfinished learning. These are our core priorities.

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