Educate Nevada Now, Public School Parents and Children File Lawsuit to Declare Nevada Vouchers Unconstitutional

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Lawsuit Alleges Vouchers Violate Nevada Constitutional Ban on Diverting Public School Funding to Private Schools

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Today, Educate Nevada Now (ENN) and five parents whose children attend Nevada public schools filed a lawsuit challenging the State’s new voucher law – Senate Bill 302. The lawsuit claims that the voucher law violates the Nevada Constitution’s explicit ban on using public school funding for private schools. The lawsuit also seeks to permanently block the State Treasurer from implementing the voucher program. The lawsuit, Lopez v. Schwartz, was filed in the First Judicial District Court in Carson City, case number 150C002071B. More public school parents and their children are expected to join the lawsuit in the coming weeks.

According to court documents, in enacting SB302, the Nevada Legislature authorized the most expansive program of private school vouchers in the United States. The voucher law directs the State Treasurer to deposit funds appropriated by the Legislature for the operation of the Nevada public schools into private accounts to pay for private school tuition, online classes, home-based curriculums and related expenses, tutoring, transportation to and from private schools, and other private expenses.

ENN is supporting this lawsuit because it addresses the alleged use of public funding for private schools, an issue of vital importance to all Nevada public school children and taxpayers – and one that must be resolved by the Nevada courts.

The parents and students allege that the voucher law violates the Education Article of the Nevada Constitution in three ways:
⦁ The voucher law by its terms diverts funds earmarked by the Legislature exclusively for the operation of the public schools to pay for private schools and other private expenditures.
⦁ The voucher law reduces State-guaranteed funding for the public schools below the level determined to be sufficient by the Legislature in the biennium budgets.
⦁ The voucher law allows public school funding to pay for private schools that do not have to comply with the “uniform” non-discrimination, education performance and accountability standards all Nevada public schools must follow.

The parents filed the lawsuit to prevent the alleged loss of funding from their children’s public schools to pay for private schools. Allegedly, under SB302, even families who can readily afford to pay the full cost of private school tuition are eligible to receive public funds. The voucher law will allegedly reduce funding for the public schools while at the same time requiring those schools to educate a higher concentration of high-needs children, including students with disabilities, English-language learners, and students at risk due to family and neighborhood poverty, homelessness, transiency and other disadvantages.

In addition to the Wolf, Rifkin attorneys, David Sciarra and Amanda Morgan of the non-profit Education Law Center (ELC) in Newark, NJ, and Las Vegas, a partner in the ENN campaign, are representing the students and parents. They are also represented pro bono by Tamerlin Godley, Litigation Partner, and associates from Munger, Tolles and Olson in Los Angeles.

For more information on the ENN campaign, visit educatenevadanow.com

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Lori Goodwine
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