Several Nevada public school parents today filed a lawsuit opposing the state’s new voucher program, which became law in June at the close of the legislative session. The lawsuit contends that the voucher law diverts funds earmarked for Nevada’s public schools to private schooling and other education expenses, in direct conflict with the state constitution.
Nevada’s new voucher law sets no household income limits, has no cap on the number of vouchers, and allows public school funding to pay for a wide range of private spending, including private and religious school tuition, home schooling, transportation, and other expenses, including those related to home-based education. The Nevada law creates the most expansive voucher program in the nation.
The lawsuit is supported by Educate Nevada Now! (ENN), a campaign of the Las Vegas-based Rogers Foundation. ENN is a non-partisan coalition of education stakeholders whose mission is to ensure sufficient and equitable resources to provide educational opportunities to all public school students in Nevada.
Education Law Center, along with pro bono counsel Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin LLP based in Nevada, and Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, are representing the parents and students in their lawsuit.
“Nevada parents are taking action to protect their children’s education and their state’s public schools,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “The Nevada constitution is very clear that funds appropriated by the Legislature for the public schools cannot be used for private schooling.”
“This voucher program will deplete essential funding from the public schools,” said Tamerlin Godley, Litigation Partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson. “It diverts those public funds to pay for private schools that are not accountable for student outcomes, as the public schools are, and that can turn away students they choose not to accept, which the public schools cannot and will not do.”
“The voucher law undermines our uniform system of public schools which the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to maintain and support with sufficient funding,” said Sylvia Lazos, Policy Director for Educate Nevada Now! “This lawsuit does not challenge the right of parents to choose a private or religious school for their child. But it does seek to ensure that public school funding is not used to subsidize that choice.”
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