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Clark County School District trustees criticized for Jara ouster, division among board members

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Posted at 10:00 PM, Nov 01, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Divisions among the Clark County School District Board of Trustees regarding a vote to terminate the district's superintendent remain stark as one trustee tells 13 Action News no one issue was the catalyst for his removal.

The board faces public criticism from community leaders and educators in advance of a meeting to discuss an interim superintendent to replace Dr. Jesus Jara, whose contract was terminated "for convenience" in a 4-3 vote last week. Several raised concerns about the optics of the decision and what it means for CCSD's future.

13 Action News' Jeremy Chen reports, business leaders are concerned the apparent lack of unity on the board will impact public perception of the nation's fifth-largest school district.

RELATED: Las Vegas business community reacts to Dr. Jesus Jara's firing

Those concerns come as Trustee Danielle Ford appeared to publicly celebrate Jara's ouster and faces criticism for a tweet several of her constituents found distasteful.

The trustee representing District F quote-tweeted what appeared to be a mock obituary for Jara. The 12-second video shows a still image of Jara's face with the caption "A Celebration of Life" and "2018-2021," the length of Jara's tenure, while Mariah Carey's "Bye Bye" plays in the background.

The re-tweet from her official account was largely not well-received. Some responses call it "poor taste" and "unprofessional."

Trustee Ford defended the tweet on Monday, telling 13 Action News it's a "well-known meme and joke" and she "obviously does not want any harm to the superintendent." She says the original tweet is from a well-known student activist.

RELATED: Dr. Jara is out, what comes next?

Further criticism of board members' vote to fire Jara comes from trustees and community members concerned about the cost — the district is still on the hook for Jara's $320,000 annual salary.

"While many disagree with me on a personal level, the facts are, we will now be paying for 2 Superintendents regardless if we like it or not," Trustee Katie Williams of District B tweeted following the vote. "Personal vendettas played out on the Board and now going forward the district has no plan."

Ford says the fiscal impact of the decision is not yet known and points to possible replacements who already work for the district.

"There is nothing that says we need to pay another superintendent," said Ford. "There are capable people making what a superintendent could make that we could put in that position."

Trustee Irene Cepeda pointed to Thursday's meeting, saying she could not speak to Williams' statements yet but added, "Unfortunately, we are a divided board. Board issues are mainly to blame for the dysfunction."

WATCH THE FULL MEETING: School trustees vote to terminate Jara's contract

As for why the trustees decided to vote Jara out, Ford tells 13 Action News there was no one specific thing they all agreed on.

"I don’t know why other trustees didn’t want him as superintendent anymore," she explained. "All it took is four of us who didn’t want him anymore."

"We listened to our constituents, our staff and four of us, for reasons unknown, wanted to let him go," she said. "It’s as simple as that."

Trustees are expected to talk about a plan to appoint an interim superintendent at Thursday night’s special board meeting.