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Jesus Jara to remain as CCSD superintendent

Updated December 3, 2021 - 10:59 pm

Jesus Jara announced Friday night that he will remain superintendent of the Clark County School District.

The announcement follows a tumultuous five weeks that included his firing by the Clark County School Board in late October and a reversal of that decision last month.

“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,” Jara wrote in a statement. “That is unacceptable; and now is the time to move forward.”

He said he will “return” to his position Monday — though he had stayed on the job past the date of his rescinded contract termination — and plans to work “day and night” to put the district’s focus on student safety, mental health and “unfinished learning.”

In a statement from the School Board on Friday, trustees said they are working toward a better relationship with Jara.

“We will continue striving for a more collaborative, respectful, and supportive Board and Superintendent relationship,” the statement read.

The board voted to oust Jara on Oct. 28 “for convenience,” meaning trustees didn’t need to provide a reason. After the vote, he was expected to remain on the job until Wednesday.

A week later, Trustees Irene Cepeda, Evelyn Garcia Morales and Lola Brooks sent a letter to board counsel and board President Linda Cavazos requesting two new agenda items for the Nov. 18 board meeting: rescinding Jara’s termination and investigating potential harassment of Jara and his cabinet.

Cepeda, the board’s vice president, provided the swing vote that led to the termination of Jara’s contract. In her announcement to change her decision, she said she had been pressured by the toxic environment of the board.

“I’ve lost my own voice trying to find middle ground and consensus in a board so painfully divided,” she wrote in a statement to the Review-Journal on Nov. 6. “More and more troubling information has come out about the process of termination, his tenure, and work environment.”

Cavazos said late that night that she was caught off guard by the agenda request, which she said was leaked to the Review-Journal. She said trustees are typically prohibited from talking about items until the formal agenda comes out.

“I have to say, I would not want to be a constituent watching seven grown women bicker,” she said at the time.

In a nearly all-night meeting Nov. 18, the board voted to reconsider termination, paving the way for Jara’s return.

Cepeda, Brooks, Morales and Katie Williams voted to rescind the earlier termination and retain Jara. Cavazos and Trustees Danielle Ford and Lisa Guzman opposed the motion.

The board also voted 5-2 — with Cavazos and Ford opposed — to postpone an agenda item about an interim superintendent search process that night. The majority of trustees said they first wanted to know whether Jara plans to stay on the job. Jara was not present at the meeting and did not ask a representative to attend on his behalf.

Jara told the Review-Journal the day after the meeting that he was still determining if there was a way to return that provided a less hostile work environment.

“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,” he said.

Jara, who was hired in 2018, has an annual salary of $320,000. His contract runs through Jan. 15, 2023.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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