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School Choice Update #3

Dear GV Christian Parents,

Here is the latest on the School Choice Bills. This was written by the Association of Christian Schools International, our accreditting organization. If you have any questions please feel free to contact your administrator.

TO: Nevada ACSI Christian school leaders

FROM: The ACSI Legal/Legislative office and RM Regional Director

RE: Nevada school choice / ESA update

By now you know, late last week the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Nevada ESA program. This communication is to update you on the possible impact it will have on your school and families across the state. Typically once the ACLU and other groups file a suit to stop a school choice program, they have sought a temporary hold to prevent the school choice program from operating until the court case has run its course (often taking years to do so).

The ACLU has indicated it will seek a judge’s order to stop the ESA program from going forward while the constitutionality of the ESA is litigated. The chances of the ACLU being granted this immediate stop to the ESA is more likely than not in the opinion of ACSI.

What if the ACLU is granted a temporary hold on the program?

If granted, the ESA will not operate until the many levels of court battles have run their course. If this case makes its way to the Nevada Supreme Court it will likely take 2-3 years, which it is likely to do. If this case makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court it would likely take 3-5 years, which is more of a long shot. Parents who have signed-up for an ESA would not be able to use it until the case has run its course.

What if the ACLU is denied a temporary hold on the program?

If denied, the program would be allowed to operate until the initial trial takes place and the judge offers an opinion on its constitutionality (probably sometime in mid to late 2016). At that point, the losing side would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Nevada. Parents in the program during this time would risk having funding cut mid-year either through the ESA being found unconstitutional or through a temporary hold being put on the program and the funds frozen until a final outcome in court is made.

How do school families proceed from this point?

Every Nevada parent with children in a private or Christian school should be encouraged to engage their legislator and their governor, graciously expressing their frustration at the process, support of the law and the state, and their opposition to the ACLU lawsuit. While schools and organizations can speak into the process, it is the voting public that has the greatest voice.

Secondly, parents must show up at public hearings and procedural workshops to make their voices known and to bring testimonies of the benefit of the law to their children and to the state. As was repeated many times over, their input is their right as voters and citizens of the state. If necessary, they should also generate winsomely crafted letters to the state’s leadership to reinforce their input and concerns.

Obviously, parents can choose to engage the existing procedures and qualifying expectations. Unfortunately, at this junction the rollout of the ESA and corp tax credit monies appears to be headed for a bumpy time with implementation timelines potentially delayed and payments possibly withheld by the courts. Caution would be the best advice we can give those parents.

ACSI remains committed to engaging the state leadership and keeping you, and your parents, informed. You are free to distribute this notification, in whole or part, to your parents.

Regretfully and cautiously,

PHILIP SCOTT, ESQ.
In-House Counsel
Assistant Director for Legal Legislative Issues