A Nevada judge dismissed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the state's landmark school choice program.
The suit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, asserted that the program was illegal because families could use government education funds at religious schools. The judge said the program was constitutional because parents, not the state government, decide if they want to use the funds at religious schools.
The school choice program gives K-12 students an education savings account that can be used for a variety of educational needs, including private school tuition, tutoring, educational therapy and textbooks. More than 95 percent of students in Nevada are eligible for the program, the most of any similar program in the country. Most families get about $5,100, or 90 percent of the statewide average per-pupil spending.
"We are disappointed by the court's decision," the ACLU of Nevada said in a statement.
On the other hand, the Institute for Justice, which represents six parents supporting the program, said, "Today's decision is a powerful rebuke to the idea that school choice programs undermine education."
The program still has to overcome a separate lawsuit before it can be implemented. That lawsuit was brought by a group called Educate Nevada Now! A state judge issued an injunction on the program in January through that lawsuit. It claims the program will drain funding from Nevada's public schools. The judge will eventually hear consider the merits of that case, and in the meantime the injunction could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.