The lawsuit filed this week against the state’s sweeping school choice program did not shock Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Both opponents and fans of the education savings accounts, which offer about $5,000 in tax dollars for students to use at private or religious schools, fully expected a legal challenge when the governor signed legislation creating the new program.
And school choice advocates from across the country already have vowed to defend Nevada’s voucher system — widely considering the most aggressive in the nation — against a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union filed on Thursday challenging its constitutionality.
Sandoval, during a tour of a Las Vegas high school on Friday, indicated he looked forward to the courts settling that dispute.”It’s disappointing, but not a surprise,” he said of the ACLU’s lawsuit.”We knew that there would be a challenge,” Sandoval added.
“But I think the important issue is to resolve that question once and for all. I’m a big believer in school choice.
“Education savings accounts, or ESAs, grant about $5,000 in per-pupil funding to families who pull students out of a public school and instead funnels the money to a private or parochial campus.
Parents also can spend the money on homeschooling, tutoring and other education services, but the ACLU contends the Nevada constitution strictly prohibits any use of public funds for a sectarian, or religious, purpose.
The national organization, its Nevada chapter and the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State plan to ask a Clark County District Court judge to temporarily halt the state’s implementation of ESAs.
“It does not matter that Catholic parents desire their children taught the Catholic doctrines, or that Protestants desire theirs to be instructed in Protestantism,” said Amy Rose, legal director of the ACLU of Nevada, quoting a Nevada Supreme Court decision from 1882.