What's Next For Nevada's School Choice Program? Anyone's Guess.

Jan 16, 2016

Credit Alexa Ard

Nevada's controversial school choice program lost its first court challenge last week. For the latest, we turn to Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey.

The Education Savings Account Program was supposed to begin doling out money to some 4,000 families in February. But last week a state court granted a preliminary injunction halting it.

"I suspect there will be a relatively lengthy legal process before this finally gets resolved," says Kim Metcalf, dean of the college of education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He says what happens next is anyone's guess.

"If it's like other similar legislation has worked, it will be on again, off again, for, potentially, years," he says.

The ESAs allow families to take the state's per-pupil-funding, roughly $5,000, and use it toward qualified education expenses, including religious-based private schools. 

In his ruling, Carson City District Judge James Wilson said the program violated the state constitution by diverting funds intended for public schools.

Metcalf says that outcome was probably unavoidable.

"The concept of the state providing funding to allow children to attend private schools, or facilitate their attendance, is controversial. It's been challenged in terms of vouchers and other sorts of savings accounts."

The state is appealing the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. A separate trial will also be scheduled in district court. The ACLU has filed its own lawsuit against the program in Las Vegas.