Jara, board attorney moving closer to settlement on ‘hostile work environment’

July 25, 2022 5:15 am
Superintendent Jesus Jara

CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara at Wasden Elementary School on the first day of the 2020-21 academic year in August. (Photo: Christopher DeVargas / Las Vegas Sun, pool)

The $2.6 million that Supt. Jesus Jara was demanding is off the table, with CCSD Board of Trustees moving to agree to pay attorneys fees and play nice with Jara for the rest of his contract.

How long the rest of his contract will run is still up in the air, yet a letter from Jara’s attorney John Bailey to Board of Trustees attorney Nicole Malich hints that Jara wants to leave the district.

In the letter, dated June 2, Bailey states that “while Dr. Jara has made it clear that he is willing to continue as CCSD’s Superintendent for several years under the right circumstances to finish the job he started, he has also made it quite clear that he continues to be presented with multiple opportunities to become a superintendent at other school districts across the country.” That paragraph concludes with, “if your client does not want him to continue as the CCSD’s Superintendent, then simply say so.”

Saying so isn’t so simple, as I have written before. Jara’s future with the district depends solely on the November school board elections. If the faction that wants to keep him gets four votes, Jara may, in fact, stay. And his salary would likely be close to or over $400,000 a year. If the faction that wants to get rid of him gets reelected and picks up one more vote, then Jara will likely be gone within months.

For now, at least, Jara has taken his demand for millions off the table, and the district has offered to meet him part way by paying his attorney.

As a reminder, Bailey sent the trustees a letter on May 2, claiming that it was Jara’s understanding that a mediation that took place on Feb. 28 was still ongoing – an understanding that the trustees did not share. The letter gave the trustees three scenarios, all of which involved paying Jara lots of money in salary and/or bulk payment.

The subsequent letters, obtained last week via public records request, are dated May 31 and June 3. The May 31 letter is from Malich, countering Bailey’s request for millions for his client by offering:

  1. [A] Joint Statement: My client, as a collective body, will work jointly with your client (not CCSD staff) to prepare a public statement where they would pledge their intentions and desires to work together with your client for the success of students in the CCSD.
  2. Assurances: The Assurances agreed upon and signed by the former officers of the Board of Trustees in December of 2021 will remain in place as is until any future agreement of the parties otherwise.
  3. Attorney’s Fees: Upon receipt of a W-9 for the Bailey Kennedy Law Firm and an accounting of billable hours, the Board of Trustees will offer to pay $50,000 in attorney’s fees per the estimate in the November 5, 2021 demand letter from your office.
  4. Release of Claims: Dr. Jara will release the-Board of Trustees of all claims related to hostile work environment, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, and violation of Due Process as threatened in demand letters from November of 2021 to the present.

Malich also writes in that letter:

“My client is opposed to the claims being used as leverage for a contract extension by yoµr client. I believe there may be some fatal issues in doing so that could potentially deem the contract voidable and thereby the future of the district being left uncertain.”

The assurances Malich references include:

  • Communication limited to formal channels only, i.e. e-mails, no text messages or phone calls.
  • Communications will not happen on weekends, evenings, vacation, personal, or sick time.  
  • The board will meet with the superintendent in rotating groups of two or three, though it doesn’t say how often
  • The Trustees and Superintendent will limit communication to and from the Superintendent’s cabinet and staff members via formal channels only, i.e. e-mails to Joe Caruso
  • The Trustees and Superintendent will not share any internal documents or information, and instead will direct the press and/or public to the appropriate channel for the information

I can say unequivocally that the trustees have abided by that last assurance, and yet I have the list of assurances. So, clearly, Lola Brooks’ obsession with punishing trustees for talking to me has now been proven to be misguided.

Bailey got back to Malich three days after receiving the counter offer, countering himself with:

  • Joint Public Statement – The parties would agree upon a joint public statement.
  • Assurances – The Board of Trustees, and each of them, will strictly comply with the Assurances agreed upon in December 2021
  • Dr. Jara agrees to refrain from asserting and to otherwise release the Board of Trustees from the Jara Claims so long as they strictly comply with the Assurances
  • Inasmuch as the Trustees caused Dr. Jara to incur costs and attorneys’ fees, the District will pay all of Dr. Jara’s attorneys’ fees (which, to date, are approximately $77,000).

The emphasis on the assurance part is mine. Note above that Malich refers to assurances “agreed upon and signed by former officers of the board.” Not all trustees signed the assurances. Notably Katie Williams and Danielle Ford didn’t sign them.

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Carrie Kaufman
Carrie Kaufman

Broadcast, digital and print journalist Carrie Kaufman writes the You're Overthinking It newsletter on Substack. She has covered the Clark County School District for public radio and The Nevada Voice since 2015. Follow Carrie on Twitter: @CarrieKaufman