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Jesus Jara, embattled Clark County superintendent, submits conditional resignation letter

Superintendent’s tenure is marked by school shutdowns during COVID, his firing and rehiring in 2021, and contract disputes with the teachers union.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
EducationK-12 Education
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The Clark County School Board is set to consider the resignation of Superintendent Jesus Jara at a Feb. 7 work session, according to an agenda for the meeting posted Wednesday. 

In a resignation letter dated Jan. 31, Jara said his last day would be Feb. 21, and is conditional on the board’s approval of new contract language that would allow the superintendent to qualify for all the pay and benefits accrued under the contract through his last day if he gives the board at least a seven-day notice of his departure. It also adds a severance package that includes a lump sum payment equal to one year’s worth of salary. 

Under the current contract, Jara is entitled to all the pay and benefits up to and including his last day if he gives at least a 90-day notice. 

“Without the board’s approval and execution of the third amendment, this resignation is of no effect,” he said in the letter. 

The school board said in a statement that the superintendent’s announcement comes as the district is set to revise its five-year strategic plan and called it a “mutual benefit” for both parties. 

“We currently have a unique opportunity to lead the district on a path forward, without disrupting the district’s stability and remaining laser focused on student outcomes in our district,” the school board’s letter states.

In 2022, the Clark County School Board extended Jara’s contract through June 30, 2026, in a 4-3 vote after giving his performance a glowing review. His contract extension came with a $75,000 raise to his base salary, bringing it up to $395,000 a year. 

The Feb. 7 agenda states the board will discuss, and possibly vote, to appoint the district’s deputy superintendent, Brenda Larsen-Mitchell, as superintendent. She’s been with the school district since 1994 and has held several positions including teacher, dean of students and assistant principal. 

It’s unusual for a school district to immediately hire a new superintendent at a work session, and without conducting a nationwide search. Last week, the Washoe County School Board hired a firm — spending no more than $100,000 — to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent that it expects to hire before the start of the next school year. Former Superintendent Kristen McNeill is leading the district in the interim. 

Jara was hired as superintendent in 2018 after serving as a deputy superintendent at a Florida school district. His tenure as superintendent has been tumultuous — most recently via the monthslong battle between the school district and the Clark County Education Association over a new contract for teachers. 

During the 2023 legislative session, he was berated by lawmakers over the school district’s low proficiency rates, and later faced calls to resign from the teachers union as well as top Democratic lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas). 

In 2021, Jara was fired in a split vote by the Clark County School Board, only to be rehired by the board a few weeks later.

Jara also oversaw the closure of Clark County schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and didn’t completely reopen schools for in-person learning until the 2021-22 school year

Jara is among five Nevada superintendents who have resigned or announced their upcoming resignation during the 2023-24 school year. 

This story was updated at 6:34 p.m. on 1/31/24 to include Superintendent Jesus Jara’s resignation letter and documents attached with the agenda for an upcoming Clark County School Board meeting.

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