Nevada school funding targeted by suit filed in Carson City

A group of parents represented by a Las Vegas law firm have filed suit charging that Nevada’s funding for public education is inadequate under Nevada law and the state constitution.

It asks the Carson district court to take jurisdiction over school funding until and unless the system is properly funded to eliminate a laundry list of violations.

“The Nevada system of public education is in crisis and has been for decades,” according to the suit filed in Carson district court on Wednesday.

”It is abundantly clear that under the Nevada Constitution and its relevant interpretations by its highest court, the state must assure that the essentials of a sound education are provided by the system of public schools.”

The complaint charges that as a result of the state’s failure to follow its own recommendations and studies on education, “Nevada students chronically underperform on national and state assessments.” It says the majority of students at all grade levels are way below proficient in math, English, reading and science.

“Nevada has the worst ACT scores in the United states, scoring last in English, reading, math and science.” The complaint says only 38 percent of Nevada students succeed in that test in English, 27 percent in reading, 22 percent in math and 19 percent in science.

It argues the ACT test is an essential measurement of readiness in most colleges and universities and that, as a result of those scores, more than half of all recent high school graduates attending Nevada colleges are placed into remedial courses.

Because the Nevada Constitution requires the state to provide an education that prepares all students to participate in civic and social life and who are able to read write and think critically to succeed in life and the workplace, the lawsuit argues Nevada’s public education system is unconstitutionally deficient.

It says all the requirements are laid out in the state’s education plan, school performance plans and other studies but the state has failed to follow through on those recommendations and properly provide for students.

The violations range from failure to provide enough high quality teachers, failure to reduce class sizes to manageable and recommended levels and failure to provide proper supplies, equipment and classroom facilities that meet the needs of students in the 21st Century.

Unlike most states, it says Nevada provides no reliable state support for capital projects. As a result, it says deferred maintenance has become a “chronic and growing problem.”

“The state has failed to implement the recommendations off its own studies,” it says.

The Nevada Plan, it charges, doesn’t provide adequate funding and the new funding plan passed by the 2019 Legislature simply redistributes the existing pot of money rather than increasing funding for schools.

“The primary cause of this failure is the arbitrary and inadequate Nevada public school finance system,” according to the suit.

It asks the court to declare the current public education funding system inadequate and insufficient to secure the basic right to an education and, therefore, a violation of the state constitution. It seeks to enjoin the state from any funding system “unless it satisfies the principles of sufficiency established under Nevada law and policy and remedies the constitutional, statutory and regulatory violations.

Finally it asks the court to retain jurisdiction over the issue until that is accomplished.


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