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Jara rated ‘highly effective,’ but school board still divided

Updated September 30, 2022 - 1:11 pm

After a year of controversies that saw his ouster and subsequent reinstatement, the Clark County School District Board of Trustees on Thursday evaluated Superintendent Jesus Jara as “highly effective.”

The move comes after a year when Jara was fired and rehired just weeks later. The superintendent recently settled claims of a hostile work environment against the board.

At a board meeting Thursday night, Jara was evaluated on metrics that the board approved earlier this year, metrics such as improving students’ reading and math proficiency, lowering suspensions and expulsions among Black students and hiring more teachers.

But even hewing to those metrics, board members were divided over the evaluation, with some board members questioning how the metrics were developed.

Trustee Danielle Ford said the numbers compiled by district staff for Jara’s evaluation might not be accurate, noting recent changes in how the district handles grading and discipline.

“It’s my understanding that principals were told to find alternate means of discipline to hit the metrics we were going for,” Ford said. “It has been made to look better than the actual results of the district have been. I don’t support this as a final evaluation result.”

After scoring the superintendent on a scale of 1-4 on each measure of his evaluation, the board ultimately averaged those scores and voted 5-2 to accept Jara’s final score of 3.6 and rate him “highly effective,” with Ford and Trustee Linda Cavazos opposed.

After the vote, Board President Irene Cepeda noted her frustration with the fact that the board has not had a consistent process for evaluating the superintendent over the last several years.

“Who else has to do an evaluation in front of the public and hear your bosses criticize you?” Cepeda said. “There’s very few other roles that are evaluated in public and other people can chime in not really seeing the full breadth of the challenges.”

In a statement following the vote, Jara said he appreciated working with the board to identify relevant metrics on which to be evaluated “appropriately and fairly.”

Jara joined the district in 2018 at a salary of $320,000. His contract is set to expire in January.

“As we work on recovering from the pandemic-related learning loss, improving our student results, and accelerating student academic achievement, I look forward to continuing to lead the District with the Board of Trustees and our 40,000 employees as we all focus our collective efforts on improving student outcomes and well-being,” he said.

A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the final score for Superintendent Jesus Jara’s evaluation.

Contact Lorraine Longhi at 702-387-5298 or llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow her at @lolonghi on Twitter.

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