Nevada ESAs constitutional, court strikes down funding mechanism

AFC urges Governor & legislature to pass technical fix to legislation

On Thursday, the Nevada State Supreme Court dismissed constitutional challenges to Nevada’s education savings account (ESA) program, finding that the program is designed for educational purposes and there is no prohibition to parents using ESAs to send their children to private or religious schools. The Court disagreed with and struck down the existing funding mechanism for ESAs.

“We are encouraged with today’s ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court – dismissing constitutional challenges to the state’s landmark education savings account program,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We encourage Gov. Brian Sandoval and the State Legislature to quickly address the technical fix required to fund a child’s education through an ESA.”

The Education Savings Account (ESA) program empowers parents to use the money allocated by the state to educate a child, approximately $5,100, to seek other educational options for their children, including private school, home-school, tutoring, educational therapies, and other educational expenses. Local and federal funding would remain in the traditional public school system, raising the overall per-pupil funding for those students who choose to remain in the traditional public school system. More than 8,000 applications for ESAs have already been filed by Nevada families wishing to participate, but all have been put on hold pending resolution of the legal challenges.

Nationwide there are 50 private school choice programs in 25 states and Washington, D.C., and five states including Nevada have education savings account programs.