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School board will consider $250K severance payment for Jara

Updated February 16, 2024 - 5:36 pm

The Clark County School Board this week will consider whether to accept a contract amendment that proposes a $250,000 lump sum payment for departing Superintendent Jesus Jara.

The board meets at 5 p.m. Thursday at the school district’s Greer Education Center in Las Vegas.

Jara, who has led the nation’s fifth-largest school district since 2018, submitted his conditional resignation letter Jan. 30.

Earlier this month, the school board rejected a motion for a proposed contract amendment that would have allowed Jara to receive a lump sum severance payment equal to one year’s salary and benefits. His yearly salary is $395,000.

He would have also gotten paid for unused vacation and sick days.

Instead, trustees decided to terminate the superintendent’s contract — which was slated to run through June 2026 — “for convenience” and to direct the board’s attorney to negotiate alternative terms.

The new contract amendment that trustees will consider Thursday calls for Jara’s last day on the job to be Feb. 23, two days later than originally proposed.

The school board in a statement included with meeting materials posted online said the “proposed compromise” is a single payment to Jara.

The payment is equal to about six months of Jara’s pay. He wouldn’t receive any compensation for unused leave or attorney’s fees.

“We appreciate Superintendent Jara’s tireless commitment to the students of Clark County, and recognize that taking advantage of this natural transition point is in everyone’s best interest,” the board said in the statement. “This mutual agreement will allow the community to forge a new path, focused solely on student success. We appreciate the Superintendent’s willingness to help us move forward in a positive manner.”

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting also includes possibly appointing an interim superintendent.

Online meeting materials show emails from board attorney Nicole Malich asking Deputy Superintendent Brenda Larsen-Mitchell and Chief Financial Officer Jason Goudie if they want to be considered as interim superintendent in the event there’s an emergency need.

Malich wrote that Jara had identified them as executives who could step into the role in an emergency.

Larsen-Mitchell and Goudie agreed to be considered, according to meeting materials.

The Clark County Education Association, which represents more than 16,000 licensed employees, began calling for Jara’s resignation last year.

Top state Democratic lawmakers also called for the superintendent’s resignation.

“CCEA’s stance remains consistent: Jara should resign gracefully and without a golden parachute,” the teachers union said in a statement Friday. “He should not get any more taxpayer dollars.”

“Learning from the ‘Jara experience,’ the school district now needs to set a higher standard of qualification for the next superintendent,” the union said. “This process must include a transparent national search, and a heavy emphasis on community and educator input.”

The union said it firmly rejects the appointment of Larsen-Mitchell because it would be “an extension of the same failed leadership.”

During a meeting earlier this month, the board didn’t take action on an item to appoint Larsen-Mitchell as the district’s next top leader.

On Thursday, trustees will also consider an item about long-term planning for next steps in selecting a new superintendent.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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