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CCSD Superintendent Jara still on the job but silent about next steps

Updated December 2, 2021 - 7:55 pm

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara remains on the job past the date of his rescinded contract termination, but his future with the district remains shrouded in uncertainty.

While school district representatives said Jara remained on the job as of Thursday — a day after his contract was to have ended — School Board President Linda Cavazos said he has not attended a board meeting in more than a month.

It also appears that he has not told the trustees whether he plans to continue in the job in the long term.

Jara’s attorney, John Bailey, didn’t respond Thursday to a request for comment.

Trustees voted 4-3 during a meeting Nov. 18 to reverse a late October decision to terminate Jara’s contract for “convenience,” meaning they didn’t need to provide a reason.

In a statement late Wednesday, the district indicated that Jara is weighing his options.

“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,’” it said.

His contract, which the board extended in May in a split vote, continues through Jan. 15, 2023.

After the School Board terminated Jara’s contract, Bailey sent a letter to the board saying the superintendent is owed more than $2.65 million to pay out the remainder of his contract and resolve other allegations, including retaliation, breach of contract, violation of due process and that trustees created a hostile work environment.

Cavazos said Thursday that she can’t comment on any of the legal issues and that new board attorney Nicole Malich is handling the communications on behalf of the board.

Malich did not respond to a Review-Journal request for comment Thursday.

But at a meeting Tuesday of School Board officers focused on proposed training from the Nevada Association of School Boards, Trustee Evelyn Garcia Morales said that as far as she knew “we still have a superintendent” and nothing has been announced about his intentions.

Cavazos said that neither Jara nor any representative from his office has attended a School Board meeting since Oct. 28.

Only staff who were making formal presentations to the board have attended meetings since then, she said, adding that a couple of district staffers also usually attend all of the meetings.

During the late October School Board meeting, Vice President Irene Cepeda was the swing vote in favor of terminating Jara’s contract. But Cepeda, with Trustees Lola Brooks and Evelyn Garcia Morales, later requested an agenda item to reconsider the contract termination.

In a statement last month, Cepeda said she initially voted to terminate Jara’s contract because of a “toxic environment” on the School Board and she couldn’t see a path forward.

Cepeda also said “more and more troubling information” had come out about the process of Jara’s termination and work environment.

During a new vote last month, she joined Brooks, Garcia Morales and Katie Williams in voting to rescind Jara’s contract termination. Cavazos, and Trustees Danielle Ford and Lisa Guzman opposed the motion.

Jara has faced criticism over handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the decision to operate with 100 percent distance learning for about a year starting in March 2020, though the initial move was precipitated by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order closing schools in the state.

He also came under fire at a July 2020 School Board meeting for an erroneous statement he made during a 2020 special legislative session and an incorrect statement to the School Board about a deadline for state approval of the district’s reopening plan.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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