Judge orders $75K bond to keep school choice program on hold
A judge ordered opponents of Nevada’s new Education Savings Account program to post a $75,000 bond that would cover the costs of the state putting the program on hold and could be disbursed to the state if a court-ordered injunction is overturned.
Carson City Judge James Wilson’s decision this week is less than the $239,000 that Treasurer Dan Schwartz requested. That figure aimed to cover nearly $3,000 a month in fees to a data storage company to preserve application information for a year, and $125,000 to retain outside lawyers to assist the attorney general’s office.
Plaintiffs, who include six families with children in public schools, had argued against the bond and requested it be “nominal,” or almost nothing.
Wilson said he didn’t have enough evidence from either side to support their requested bond amounts, but said $75,000 was reasonable.
Educate Nevada Now, a group that’s supporting the lawsuit, praised the decision.
“We are pleased Judge Wilson did not require an excessive bond that would have had the effect of denying these parents, and future litigants seeking to protect their constitutional rights, from seeking preliminary injunctions,” said Sylvia Lazos, the group’s policy director.
Education Savings Accounts were authorized by the Nevada Legislature last spring. The program allows parents to claim the majority of their child’s per-pupil state education funding and apply it toward private school tuition or other qualified education expenses.
Two lawsuits aim to stop the program, including the one in Carson City that says the program will undermine public schools and one in Las Vegas that argues it unlawfully sends state money to religious schools.
A judge put the program on hold in January, before any money was disbursed to parents, and the state is now appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court to try lifting the injunction.