Tug of war over school grants

Critics of the state program that pays parents to take their children out of public school say the latest step has been bungled by State Treasurer Dan Schwartz.

On Nov. 30, Schwartz posted a notice saying he plans a December 21 hearing on adoption of implementing regulations for the program. “Of course, that falls short of the required 30-day notice for regulation adoption contained in the Administrative Procedures Act,” wrote one of our readers in an email message—who also said that after signing up to receive Treasurer's meeting notices, she received several but not the Dec. 21 notice.

Nevada Revised Statute 233B.060 reads, “the agency must … give at least 30 days' notice of its intended action, unless a shorter period of notice is specifically permitted by statute.”

Schwartz spokesperson Grant Hewitt responded, “The posting that is being referenced was actually updated on November 25, and was merely an update to the original posting that was done on October 22nd. As you may remember, the hearing on November 23rd was delayed because our office did not receive final draft regulations back from LCB until November 19th. In an effort to allow Nevadans the ability to comment on those regulations, as is the purpose of the adoption hearing, we chose to delay the hearing until December 21st. So this is not actually a new posting but rather an updated one.”

Our reader, Joyce Newman, said she intends to file an open meeting complaint.

Meanwhile, reaction grew to Schwartz's plan to give grants to families that are not eligible.

The statute says the funds are available only to parents who remove their children from school after at least 100 days. Schwartz says he intends to give grants to military families just arrived in the state, anyway. Legislative lawyers have said that is outside his authority.

Schwartz portrayed it as a matter of supporting the troops.

“Nevada has long stood by its military families and veterans, and the [grants] program is no exception,” he wrote.

Las Vegas columnist Steve Sebelius wrote, “Unfortunately, no matter how much we may dislike it, the black letters of SB302 don't yield to the wishes of the treasurer, ESA parents, the governor or anyone else.”

The final arbiter would be the courts, if the military issue is brought to them.