Clark County School District Superintendent, Dr. Jesus Jara, announced the elimination of 170 middle and high school dean positions through a viral video, June 10, 2019. Jara says the move was needed to overcome a $17 million-dollar budget deficit this upcoming school year. Many of us were at a Leadership Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and this is how we learned we would be “displaced” and sent back into the classroom as teachers in August.
Most deans who have been in their positions for five or more years are taking ANNUAL pay cuts that will exceed $20,000 or more, including myself. Parents and teachers had reason to celebrate after the recent passage of significant education bills in the Nevada Legislature. However, over the past few weeks, we've been outraged over the latest developments including “No More Deans” in secondary schools.
At a UNLV educational town hall and school board meetings, deans, educators, parents, other community members voiced their concerns. Most speakers felt the absence of deans would negatively impact student safety on campus. Two days after the superintendent’s announcement, the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees unanimously passed a no-confidence vote. According to CCASA this is the first vote of its type for the organization.
Deans aid the principal in many forms, from supervising athletics and extracurricular activities, state testing and transportation to working one-on-one with students on behavior issues. It is extremely important that a safe learning environment be provided where teachers can teach, and students can learn. Troubled students come to the dean with reports of drugs and weapons on campus, bullying and potential fights. Upon entering a school most don’t see themselves as deans or administrators, but as individuals, trusted people that students can come to for anything, and they do. Deans arms are wrapped around students all day every day and they love what they do.
In the last few weeks, many deans have agonized, experienced anxiety and depression or simply broke down over being “displaced” as Jara labels it. Many wonder if he realizes that the safety at all secondary schools has now been compromised and the morale of our communities has been shaken as a result of this decision. I’ve spoken to parents and students that attend schools where discipline is so out of control, even with deans on campus, they are considering enrolling their children in charter schools. This has been a challenging year from a safety perspective throughout the CCSD, cutting all deans’ positions promises to make the year even more challenging. Jara announced that he would be adding police officers to the secondary schools and K-9 units to high schools. Is this the solution to solving the deficit? Is this the solution we offer our children and families? Time will tell!
Many leaders are still disturbed by the way they were notified! Instead of deans' being eliminated they could have retitled the 170 positions to Assistant Principals because, contrary to popular belief, that's exactly what they do every single day. Eliminating these positions has been quite disappointing for women and many other African-Americans. There are, in fact, a significant number of deans who are female and black who were hoping for higher administrative positions. With the indefinite elimination of these administrators, the hard work, hope and aspiration of many professionals has been decimated!
Many have been in the Administrative Pool for years, invested in higher education and training and this is downright a slap in the face. It is especially disrespectful to the deans who are still waiting to be promoted to an Assistant Principal position and now are being sent back to the classroom. Massive inequalities and inconsistencies exist in the hiring and promoting of administrators of color. Although Judge Nancy Allf granted a preliminary injunction against CCSD relating to the displacement of the 170 secondary deans of students last week, we still have a long way to go. Judge Allf told us, “It's not a win.” However, I’ll take all wins big or small right about now.
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PHOTO CREDITS: Photo provided by Joseph C. Abraham of Unrelenting Media, Inc.