Advocates for Nevada’s Universal Education Savings Account – which could be the largest and most ambitious school choice program in the country — were handed a victory earlier this week when Judge Eric Johnson ruled the program did not violate the state’s ban on using taxpayer funds for religious purposes.
Judge Johnson said the ESA program is neutral toward religion since parents not the state decide whether they will use an ESA to pay for tuition at religious schools.
The ACLU which had filed the lawsuit last August was not immediately available for comment. It is not known whether the case will be appealed.
Johnson did not agree with ACLU attorneys who said ESAs violate the constitutional provision for a “uniform system of public education.” The judge sided with attorneys for the state that cited Nevada’s “by all suitable means” provision that says the state can encourage education by means other than the public school system.
The Nevada legislation provides parents on about $5,100 to spend on their child’s tuition or other educational expenses.
In January a judge’s injunction has prohibited the ESA from moving forward with implementation. The Nevada Supreme Court is expected to hear an appeal in August.