Dwight Jones has four days left as superintendent of the nation's fifth largest school district. He's taken some heat for leaving two years into a four-year contract, the shortest stint of anyone who's ever held the job on a permanent basis.
But in Jim Snyder’s exclusive interview with the superintendent, Jones says the thing that matters most is his mother's health, which improved as soon as he made the decision to quit and spend more time with her.The transcript of part one of the interview is below
SUPERINTENDENT DWIGHT JONES: I’m so optimistic -- my mother is going into a rehab hospital today.
JIM SNYDER: Oh, great! In Dallas?
Tomorrow on News 3 Nightly at 6:
Jim Snyder concludes his 2-part interview with Superintendent Dwight Jones.
JONES: In Dallas -- in Tyler, TX, just outside of Dallas.
SNYDER: This move that you’re making just became a sign for her, or an encouraging nudge?
JONES: When my brother told her that I had made that decision, she said "Dwight did that for me?" and she said “I gotta do my part,” and she's been different ever since. So it just reaffirms that although it was a tough decision, it was the right decision.
SNYDER: This is the Monday of your last week here at the school district -- you’ve got a lot of people clamoring in town saying, Don’t leave! We're not ready for you to leave yet!
JONES: A lot is going through my mind. I care deeply about this community, about this district. It’s amazing how this community has stepped up in support and saying we want it to be about our kids and we just trust you to help lead that, so it was a really tough decision to step away when we know there's still so much more that has to be done.
SNYDER: Much has been written about the timing of your departure coming in the middle of the legislative session.....fighting for funding up in Carson City...is that a concern?
JONES: It's a part of what was so difficult about this decision. As you know budgets have been very difficult. We've asked folks to do more with less. I’m very pleased that they done that -- the teachers have stepped up and deliver better results over the last couple of years than we've had in while and we've done that with less resource. It’s amazing what the principals have done, the bus drivers, secretaries -- everyone has just stepped up in amazing ways for the kids here in Clark County.
SNYDER: You have said illness has no time table. People wonder, if you're going to be flying from Dallas to Denver on this rotation with your siblings, why couldn’t you have flown from McCarran to Dallas and at least made that work -- take little leaves of absences, longer weekends and at least fulfill the 90 days that you’ve committed to in your contract?
JONES: Yeah, One of the things that was key to me -- I’ve always done everything 100% -- this job is a full time job. I thought it would be a disservice to this community to think somehow you could do it part time. The same thing goes for caring for my mother. My mother -- it isn’t a part time challenge. It’s a full time challenge.
SNYDER: People are cynical over the years, they get jaded -- they’ve seen many scandals and everything else and it’s come up, there must be something coming down the pike -- some embarrassing information that’s going to come out that you want to get out of town before that happens...
JONES: I can just say I guess they can have those kinds of conversations. What I have said and what history will show is I made a decision to go take of my mother and though it was a difficult decision, I still feel like that was the right decision.
SNYDER: Okay, so you're not aware of any investigations or information that might be coming out or anything like that?
JONES: Absolutely not.
SNYDER: If you felt like this community, this state, more fully supported education, financially and otherwise, would it have changed your decision to leave?
JONES: It would not have changed my decision. I made that decision based on an illness of my mother and I just feel like that was the right thing, although I agonized over it.
SNYDER: Does the community support education as much as it should?
JONES: I think the community has to continue to look at ways that they want to invest in their children. I think right now that’s part of the conversation that’s happening with the legislature.
SNYDER: Is it a personal regret of yours that you signed the contract-- it has 90 days in there and now you’re going back on that word?
JONES: I made a decision to support my mother. I think I’ve been clear about that -- I couldn’t predict when she would need that support and she needs it yesterday.
SNYDER: Education's in your blood -- it’s all you’ve done, all you’ve known -- will you be back to it one day?
JONES: It is what I’ve known. And I’ve kind of made a commitment that I've always wanted to work in places where some of our kids are in the shadows and my goal has always been to bring them into the light and to say even though it may be a challenge we've got to take this challenge on because kids are counting on us. I’m optimistic that we'll get my mother back stabilized and stronger and then at some point we'll have to look at what’s next and I just haven’t given a lot of thought to it as this point. But at some point I'll have to give that some thought and make some decisions. But I can't imagine I won't continue to try to do something in education.