August 11, 2022 - 8:17 pm
Updated August 12, 2022 - 12:13 pm
After a year that has consistently seen trustees at odds, including two 4-3 votes to fire and then rehire Superintendent Jesus Jara, the Clark County School Board unanimously voted Thursday to pay his attorney fees over his claims of a hostile work environment.
The board approved the $95,000 agreement during its first meeting of the school year.
Trustee Katie Williams moved to immediately approve the agreement Thursday — after it was pulled from a consent agenda item by Trustee Linda Cavazos — saying, “We’ve been discussing it for almost a year.”
The trustees met with Jara in mediation in February to resolve his claims of a hostile work and abusive work environment, which he raised in October, but that mediation was unsuccessful, according to board documents. The same day that Jara met with board members in October about the claims, the board voted 4-3 to terminate his contract.
Cavazos, who was president of the board when Jara was fired and was one of the three votes to fire him, said Thursday she ultimately agreed with Williams, noting that she only pulled the item for a vote because she wanted clarification on some of the wording.
“We did not want a long discussion on this,” Cavazos said.
Jose Solorio, a political consultant and former trustee, said at the meeting he believed the agreement showed that the board had evolved and was considering the best interest of students. Solorio spoke in support of Jara in October before his contract was terminated.
“I believe that it was a time that the board went through. Put it behind us,” he said. “In my opinion we’re lucky it’s not a whole lot more. So I think we got a great deal out of that.”
But Robert Bray, a teacher at Las Vegas High School, was critical of the payout. Money that could have gone to students and operations in the district are instead now going to Jara’s attorney fees, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday.
“We’re basically spending 95K because he couldn’t get along with his co-workers,” Bray said. “If it’s true that his priority is students, I think he should be ashamed that he’s asking for $95,000 for a dismissed lawsuit.”
Jara’s time in the district
Jara was hired in May 2018 at an annual salary of $320,000. His contract is set to expire in January.
After the board voted to terminate his contract, Jara told trustees he was awarding more than $400,000 in base salary increases to senior members of his executive cabinet and seeking $2 million to resolve allegations of harassment and retaliation against the board.
In a statement posted alongside Thursday’s agenda item, the trustees said they had hoped to proceed “collaboratively” with Jara so that they could focus on serving students and improving student outcomes.
“There is so much work to do, but if we focus on supporting our students, families, staff, and community, we are positive we will continue to move in the right direction together,” the statement read.
Contact Lorraine Longhi at 702-387-5298 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @lolonghi on Twitter.