No-confidence votes are just the latest nasty pothole in what has been a rocky road for K12 superintendents over the last few school years. Even though a no-confidence vote has no official bearing on an administrator’s job, leaders across the country are now contending with heightened levels of hostility from both teachers unions and parents.
The most high-profile leader to endure a no-confidence vote this spring is Superintendent Jesus Jara of Nevada’s Clark County School District, the nation’s fifth-largest school system. The Clark County Education Association, the state’s largest educators union, announced earlier this year that 75% of its members have lost confidence in Jara, who has been the district’s superintendent for five years.
“Graduation rates are suspect, proficiency levels continue to be chronically low, the disparities between our most at-risk students and everyone else continue to widen and our students are fundamentally not college or career ready upon leaving CCSD,” the union charged. In an even more recent survey, the union claims more than 70% of likely Clark County voters want Jara to be fired.
Jara also received a vote of no-confidence from an administrators union in 2019 but the school board has renewed his contract twice—including once after firing him, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
‘No confidence’ is trending
Boston-area school districts appear to be a hotbed of anti-administration activity. During contract negotiations earlier this month, the Educational Association of Worcester voted no-confidence in Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez, the school board, the city’s mayor, the city manager and the city council. The vote was taken after the school board asked mediators from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations to help with the negotiations, according to the Telegram & Gazette.
In a near-unanimous vote, members of the teachers union in Holliston Public Schools last week voted no-confidence in Superintendent Susan Kustka for “failure to provide a supportive work environment” where educators feel safe and can flourish, according to AFT Massachusetts. The union says Kustka has not given teachers a decision-making role or been able to reverse Holliston’s high rate of teacher turnover. The district, which has 375 staff positions, has had 216 new staff members in the past two-and-a-half years, AFT Massachusetts asserts.
Also in the midst of contract negotiations, nearly 95% of the members of the Wellesley Educators Association voted no-confidence in Wellesley Public Schools Superintendent David Lussier and the district’s school board. The union took action in March when the school board recommended going into mediation even though teachers had already made some concessions, The Boston Globe reported. Earlier this month, however, the union reached a tentative contract agreement with the district.
As we celebrate our tentative agreement with the Wellesley School Committee, and continue to work to conclude an especially challenging school year, here are a few things won through the WEA's continued solidarity for 14 months. #fairfive #unionsolidarity pic.twitter.com/SAdyEGXfY3
— WEA (@WEAunion) May 13, 2023
The unions representing teachers at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School and Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District have all voted no-confidence in their superintendents, according to local reports. Assabet Valley’s teachers have been working without a contract for the past two-and-a-half years, MetroWest Daily News reported, while Superintendent Kathleen Dawson of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District has been put on administrative leave, according to YourArlington.com.
More from DA: A surprise firing and 2 suspensions mark ongoing shuffle of K12 leadership
And in Salem, Massachusetts, it’s parents who are urging the school board to hold a no-confidence vote on Superintendent Margarita Ruiz.
Three unions—representing teachers, principals and supervisors—voted no-confidence in Superintendent Rachel Goldberg of Springfield Public Schools in New Jersey, TAPintoSpringfield reported. The trio of organizations argues that spending and staffing have been cut and schedules have been changed without sufficient input from district employees, according to the website.
No-confidence votes aren’t only the product of testy contract negotiations and financial constraints. In Ohio’s Orange City School District, the teachers union voted no-confidence in Superintendent Lynn Campbell and the administrative team due to safety concerns, including when some sections of the district’s high school were not notified when the building went into lockdown recently, Fox 8 News reported.