Nevada’s ESA Voucher Case

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In June 2015, the Nevada legislature passed the controversial Education Savings Accounts (ESA) voucher program that would drain millions of dollars each year from public schools in the most aggressive, unregulated, and unaccountable voucher scheme in the country. ENN supports the legal challenge, Lopez v. Schwartz, brought by a group of parents from across the state who are willing to fight for strong public schools for their children and all Nevada public school students.

The ESA voucher program is unprecedented in its scope, lack of accountability, and lack of safeguards. Any parent whose child was in at least one class of public school for 100 days prior to applying can receive $5,100 to $5,700 per student, per year, for the entirety of the student’s school career. Entering Kindergarten students are exempt from this requirement, meaning students entering private school from Kindergarten can receive vouchers without attending public school for even one day. Unlike other state programs that limit access to vouchers based on income level, special education status, or other factors, Nevada’s ESA voucher program has none of these limits.

Nevada’s ESA voucher program is unprecedented in other ways. Unlike in other states, Nevada legislators did not set aside a finite amount of funds to support the program. Instead, the finding for the program comes directly out of public school district budgets, and there is no limit on how much can be drained from public schools and used for vouchers.

In addition, under Nevada’s ESA program, private schools do not have to accept all students as public schools do. Despite receiving public dollars, only 10% of ESA voucher accounts will be audited to ensure the funds are used properly, and there is no meaningful oversight to ensure that schools or online programs accepting ESA funds are actually educating students.

ENN supports a group of parents that challenged the Nevada voucher program in a lawsuit. The case, Lopez v. Schwartz, has halted the program through an injunction granted by a Nevada judge. ENN is committed to providing credible research and information about this controversial voucher program, along with updates on efforts to stop its implementation.