Jara previously said his Orlando-based district is similar to Las Vegas in that both are tourism-focused and have similar populations and challenges.
Jara is said to have been successful in several projects, such as boosting Advanced Placement test scores for underperforming schools through a collaboration program and beginning a program that offered teachers bonuses to work at underperforming schools.
“We are incredibly proud that the Clark County School District Board of Trustees selected our own deputy superintendent, Dr. Jesus Jara, to be their new superintendent," said Orange County superintendent Barbara M. Jenkins in a statement. "His talent, consistently demonstrated in OCPS, will be of tremendous benefit to all the children of Las Vegas.”
Jara had previously been a finalist for superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools in 2015 and Metro Nashville Public Schools in 2016.
The new superintendent is a member of Chiefs for Changes "Future Chiefs" program, according to Education Week. On its website, Chiefs for Change states they are "helping to build a diverse pipeline of Future Chiefs by identifying bold and innovate state and district education leaders."
Jara was first named deputy superintendent in Orange County in 2012. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he faced some criticism when chosen for the role during his time as superintendent of Monroe County Public Schools in the Florida Keys. The newspaper reported that Jara had clashed with the unions over furlough days and pay increases amid budget cuts.
He had been the chief operations officer for Monroe County Public Schools starting in 2010 before he was appointed to superintendent of schools by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 after the previous superintendent had resigned amid a financial scandal, according to the Sentinel.
Before his time in Monroe County, Jara worked for nearly four years at The College Board in Florida, following about 7 months at The College Board in Massachusetts. He also spent time in Massachusetts as a principal and assistant principal.
Jara first began his career in Homestead, Florida, working as an athletic trainer before working as the dean of students, biology teacher and athletic trainer in Coral Gables, Florida. Jara had grown up in Florida after moving from Venezuela to Miami as a child.
Jara received his bachelor's degree in sports medicine and exercise science at Barry University, a Catholic university in South Florida, in 1996. He later received his masters in science education from Nova Southeastern University in 1998 and his doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2010.