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December 18, 2014

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Dwight Jones reiterates: Family situation is sole reason for his sudden departure

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Paul Takahashi

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones answers questions today from media about his resignation, which he announced via email Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Jones reiterated that he was leaving to take care of his ailing mother. School board member Deanna Wright is at right.

Dwight Jones Visits Schools

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones shares an idea with Principal Amber Brookins at Jacobson Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. Jones said he hopes to take formal, one-hour tours at more than 50 schools by the end of the school year. Launch slideshow »

Outgoing Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones maintained Wednesday that his sudden decision to leave the nation's fifth-largest district was personal – nothing else.

"I want to be crystal clear," Jones said. "My decision has nothing to do with any other factors outside of just wanting to do what I think is right for my family."

Jones abruptly announced his resignation from the nation' fifth-largest school district Tuesday night to take care of his ailing mother in Dallas.

Jones said he planned to move back to Denver, where his wife will return to work as a public schoolteacher. The move, Jones said, would allow him to fly to Dallas on a regular basis to care for his mother, who has been ill for some time.

Asked why he didn't take a leave of absence, as afforded to him in his contract, or relocate his mother to Las Vegas or a myriad of other options, Jones said he considered them all.

"I get that folks will say, 'You could do this, you could do that,'" Jones said. "I certainly weighed all of those options … (but) I have to make a decision that's best for my family,"

Jones said he considered his family obligations and the demands of his position when he made his ultimate decision to leave the district, halfway into a four-year contract.

"Whether it's this job or my family, I do it 100 percent," Jones said. "Right now, my mother needs my full attention.

"(Being superintendent) isn't a part-time job," Jones continued. "The Clark County School district job is a difficult job, and the kids deserve our full attention and our best effort.

"I just didn't feel like I could take a leave of absence." Jones said. "And that's a personal decision and I'm asking the community to respect that decision. It was a difficult decision. I care deeply about this community and the children of his community."

Jones – who was hired in October 2010 – tendered his resignation Tuesday night but said he planned to stay on as superintendent until March 22 to ensure a smooth transition.

Jones' contract stipulates a 90-day notice before leaving the district; however, Jones said he asked School Board members to grant him an exemption because of his ailing mother.

Under his contract, Jones is entitled to receive all pay and benefits up until March 22. Jones receives a salary of $396,000, including benefits, according to TransparentNevada.com.

Jones said his greatest accomplishment during his two years in Las Vegas has been to create a "high sense of urgency" about the state of education in Nevada to spur community action. He didn't identify any specific "failures" from his tenure.

Jones, who doesn't have any immediate plans for employment while his mother is ill, said he was confident the School District would finish the reform efforts he has started. Jones added he believed the district was better off now than when he arrived two years ago.

"When you're reforming a school district, it's hard work. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back," Jones said. "I hope the community insists that the work moves forward. We have to expect more out of the system to deliver more for our kids."

Nevada leaders on Wednesday lamented Jones' decision to leave the district.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called Jones' departure "a huge loss for our community."

"In his brief tenure with the School District, (Jones) has made huge strides to improve education in Southern Nevada," Goodman said in a statement. "We wish his mother a speedy and strong recovery."

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he spoke with Jones on Tuesday night, shortly after Jones announced his resignation. Sandoval had worked closely with Jones over the past two years on various reform efforts in Clark County and across the state.

"Dwight has been a reformer, a partner and a friend and while I am sad to see him leave the Clark County School District, there is nothing nobler than putting one's family ahead of one's career," Sandoval said in a statement. "Under Dwight’s leadership, graduation rates in Clark County rose, test scores improved and the district took steps toward more transparency and better accountability. I am confident that the school district will continue to improve the delivery of education for our state’s children and I wish Dwight and his family the very best."

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Jones made "huge strides to improve education in Southern Nevada," despite the "challenging economic times and deep state budget cuts in education."

Reid, who urged Nevada legislators three weeks ago to increase funding for public schools, added – with clarification from a spokeswoman – that "it is unfortunate that Nevada continues to lose leaders of Dwight’s caliber because of lack of (financial) support (to implement his reforms)."

Jones' resignation comes on the heels of another major superintendent departure last school year.

Heath Morrison, who was named a national superintendent of the year, left the Washoe County School District, the Silver State's second-largest district, to lead the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina.

Soon thereafter, Jones' then-deputy superintendent Pedro Martinez became Washoe County superintendent. Patrick Skorkowsky, a longtime Clark County school administrator, assumed Martinez's role in CCSD.

The Clark County School Board will meet March 14 to discuss plans to find Jones' successor. In a meeting this morning, the board declined to name any potential candidates it would consider.

The seven-member board, which has the authority to hire and fire superintendents, can choose to appoint an interim superintendent immediately or to hire a search firm to conduct a local or national search for a new superintendent. Last time the superintendent’s position was being filled, the board paid about $50,000 to a search firm.

If the board takes no action, Deputy Superintendent Skorkowsky will assume the role of acting superintendent on March 22.

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  1. The general public, as evidenced by comments on both the RJ and Sun websites, by posts on various blogs and by [anecdotal] comments around town , does not seem to have the same warm, fuzzy feelings about and respect for Supt. Jones as do the politicians and pointy-heads mentioned in the story. Regardless of the reasons, he is gone and the Board needs to consider what it will take to recruit someone who will take on what might be an impossible task.....improving educational opportunities and results for students in the 5th largest district in the US.

    The only comment that I could make at this time is to remember that an organization of this size and complexity with as many systemic failures as it has is, by almost any definition, poorly managed and administered. If there were only a couple of troubled areas you could look at conditions in those areas. In CCSD, however, it seems as if the whole organization lumbers along without purpose, consistency or continuity. As Jerry Fink [lvfacts101] pointed out in another thread this performance in a private sector organization would lead to bankruptcy. It may be time to consider restructuring the organization to break up entrenched interest groups.

  2. Anybody really buy this garbage about a sick mother? Dwight has a brother who lives in Dallas and works (surprise, surprise) as a school administrator in the Dallas School District. So with a brother in the same city as his allegedly ailing mother, Dwight suddenly has to drop everything, including his $350K annual salary to move back to Denver - NOT Dallas - and fly from there to Texas to see his mother?

    This makes less than no sense. In fact, the lie is so transparent as to be laughable. Dwight either has another gig lined up, and is bailing on CCSD ahead of accepting that new position, or he's got the inside track on some seriously bad news that might be coming down about something he did or failed to do. I'm guessing somebody has some information about financial shenanigans on Dwight's part that he doesn't want getting out. After all, he has a track record of being loose with public money as far back as his Colorado days.

    Either way, good riddance. Take Fulkerson and the rest of your cronies with you.

  3. He's not even moving to Dallas to care for his mom!!!??? But rather relocating back to Denver. Something stinks here.

  4. Yep, that's what I'd do too, move to Denver to fly to Dallas on a regular basis...

  5. Hmmmm , nope that smell hasn't gone away the whole thing still smells fishy.

  6. First of all Jones is bailing out, thats a given but you can think what you like. Also seems to me people here should be happy because he's not very well liked by anyone here and his job approval wasn't very high. So lets move on to the next person and hopefully this one will be fully vetted and not cost so much money.

  7. #1 REASON FOR EDUCATORS LEAVING NEVADA: MONEY.

    Nevada Lawmakers continue to cowtow to certain industries and AVOID adequately funding education in Nevada. The handwriting is and has been on the wall for a while now, and folks can't seem to focus enough from all the distractions to understand the bottom line for anybody, including a massive school district's superintendent: MONEY.

    Funding education adequately continues to NOT happen by the Nevada State Legislature. These politicians are more concerned about their reelection chances than to do the right thing and serve the People of Nevada and not private industry.

    Educators and Teachers are leaving in droves due to the lack of priorities of the Nevada State Lawmakers, lack of respect for the profession, lack of support, and, because they educate for a living, educators are no longer making sufficient compensation for their credentialed, professional services. The workplace has become hostile, and there is so much alienation with the public, that educators only have their homes as a welcoming, positive place to dwell.

    As long as education continues to be at the bottom in priorities, it will continue to spiral down and suffer from attack.

    Our greatest treasure is our children---not the gold and silver found in Nevada's mines.

    Parents are a child's first and lifelong teacher. If that parent does not support education, that child will reflect it as will the state and local communities.

    Having a education SHOULD pay off, but here in Nevada, it does not!

    Good luck Superintendent Jones, may all the positive changes you seeded at CCSD grow and bring forth good fruit.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  8. As a 35 year executive recruiter I know my clients would make him pay back his relocation money at the very least. He should also have to pay back the recruiting fee.