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School Board president Cavazos regrets the turmoil over Jara firing

Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Trustee Linda Cavazos speaks during a news conference at Cortney Middle School Thursday, July 9, 2020.

The leader of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees apologized Monday for tensions that have publicly gripped the board, most recently in the wake of the firing of Superintendent Jesus Jara.

“What you have been seeing (at) the school board meetings is not what you should be seeing. We should be seeing conversations about a focus on our children, student achievement and what we have to do to take our children forward,” board president Linda Cavazos said at a news conference. “What people have been having to — I’ll just say it, endure — are hourslong meetings where a lot of things do not get done.”

Cavazos’ appearance came after a weekend when two major twists in the superintendent termination were shared with the media: a request from Trustee Irene Cepeda to reconsider her vote to fire Jara, which passed on a 4-3 vote on Oct. 28, and a post-firing demand letter from Jara’s personal attorney alleging that the board harassed him and created a hostile work environment, a claim that the outgoing superintendent would be willing to settle for $2 million. Cavazos said both matters were leaks of confidential information.

Cavazos disputed two statements from the demand letter: that she had ever suggested that Jara’s filing was actually for cause, and that a closed-door meeting between trustees and Jara had been called specifically to discuss his alleged harassment.

When trustees ousted Jara, it was “for convenience,” meaning they did not have to give a reason. He was given 30 days notice. His last day is Dec. 1.

Jara’s lawyer did not immediately return messages for further comment Monday.

The process to appoint an interim superintendent has not yet begun. The trustees met Nov. 4 to get it started but hit a stalemate when they voted 3-3, with Cepeda abstaining, on a candidate application system. Cavazos then moved to adjourn the meeting rather than vote on a proposal to promote a cabinet member to fill in for Jara because if that happened, “our community input would have been completely eliminated,” she said.

As to the potential to reconsider the termination, Cavazos explained that procedurally, Cepeda’s request must first receive board approval to put the question on the agenda. That initial vote is set for Nov. 18. If it passes, then the reconsideration itself faces a separate vote — probably at the same Nov. 18 meeting but not necessarily, Cavazos said.

Meanwhile, she said, students are paying attention to officials’ strained relations.

“I get mail from children as young as second or third grade (asking), ‘How come you guys are not acting like grown-ups?,’” she said. “Good question. Why are we not acting like grown-ups? Why are we not getting something done?”

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