Clark County schools’ superintendent to depart the district with $250k

Superintendent Jesus Jara speaks during a news conference at Dean Petersen Elementary School, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Lorraine Longhi

February 23, 2024

Embattled Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara will resign effective Friday, after more than five contentious years leading the school system.

The Clark County school board voted Thursday to accept Jara’s resignation after voting earlier this month to renegotiate the terms of his departure following immense community pushback.

Jara, who came on to lead the district in 2018, has faced a host of controversies during his tenure, including flagging achievement in the district and claims of a hostile work environment. He was fired and subsequently rehired in 2021, and in recent months has invited controversy over his relationship with the union, his social media use and an investigation from state and federal education officials into the district’s use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Under the terms approved Thursday, Jara will resign with a payout from the district of $250,000. Under his previous contract terms, the board would have had to pay out the remainder of Jara’s contract, or just under a million dollars, the board’s attorney Nicole Malich said Thursday.

Ahead of the vote to approve Jara’s resignation, district teacher Robert Cowles said it was unacceptable to pay Jara to leave the district, and that the board should instead terminate the superintendent for cause.

“It is an affront to every single employee in the Clark County School District, and it is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Cowles said.

The board ultimately voted 5-2 to accept Jara’s resignation, with trustees Linda Cavazos and Brenda Zamora dissenting.

What’s next?

The board was set to consider a motion to name Deputy Superintendent Brenda Larsen-Mitchell as superintendent earlier this month, but ultimately did not take action on the item due to pending negotiations over Jara’s employment.

Several community members, including Henderson Mayor Michelle Romero and Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, vocalized at the time the need for the board to conduct a nationwide search to find its next leader.

On Thursday, the board voted 5-2 to appoint Larsen-Mitchell as the interim superintendent, with Trustee Lola Brooks stressing the need for the board to be focused on student success.

In order for students to be successful, you cannot introduce chaos,” Brooks said. “You have to have a plan. There has to be a clear leader. The priority has to be stability.”

Addressing the board Thursday, Larsen-Mitchell cited her 30-year tenure in the district as a teacher, administrator and deputy superintendent.

“I display a relentless sense of urgency on behalf of our children,” she said. “Our children are depending on us to provide stability in these trying times, and I’m willing to serve as the interim superintendent.”

Reach the reporter at [email protected].

  • Lorraine Longhi

    Lorraine Longhi is a reporter for The Nevadan and native of the southwest. A graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, she spent eight years reporting in Arizona, including at The Arizona Republic and The Copper Courier, where she covered education, health care and state politics. She returned to Las Vegas, her hometown, last year as an education reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where she was later promoted to assistant city editor

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | EDUCATION | POLITICS

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