Andrew Campanella, a spokesman for the Alliance for School Choice, took issue with the ACLU interpretation of the Nevada constitution, saying the organization, “is taking liberties with the state’s constitution in their attempt to deny parents the opportunity to choose the best schools for their kids.” “It is not surprising, given the ACLU has fought tooth and nail to deny deserving children the opportunity to achieve their own American dreams,” he said.
Woodbury said that if a voucher plan is approved by the Legislature, it would take some time to implement.
Lee Rowland, northern coordinator for the ACLU of Nevada, said a reading of the state constitution suggests there is no way a voucher plan in any form would withstand a legal challenge.
“We at the ACLU cannot imagine a voucher program that gives direct taxpayer funding to secular institutions that can in anyway comport without our constitutional prohibition on using public money for religious purposes,” she said.
“If the constitution will allow for it, I’m happy to send it directly to parents.” Woodbury said the proposal would provide 75 percent of the local school district’s pupil support to the private school.
If tuition was less than 75 percent of the support, then the lower amount that would be provided, Woodbury said.
Students would have to pass the high school proficiency exam to earn a diploma.
Woodbury said under the governor’s plan, religious schools would not automatically be prohibited from participating.
Rowland said the prohibition “creates a very real hurdle for anyone trying to institute a voucher program in Nevada.” People have a right to attend religious schools, just not with public funds, she said.
The Institute for Justice, a civil liberties and public interest law firm, disagrees with the ACLU interpretation.
A school voucher measure will be one of those amendments, she said.