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Judge cuts bond amount sought in ESA case

CARSON CITY — A state judge Thursday reduced by more than two-thirds the amount of a bond sought by the state treasurer and attorney general’s office from a group of parents challenging Nevada’s education savings account.

District Judge James Wilson said although state rules require someone who wins an injunction to post a security to cover damages should the injunction be dissolved, the $239,000 sought by state Treasurer Dan Schwartz and Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke was unwarranted.

Wilson cut the amount to $75,000, saying the treasurer offered little or no evidence to justify the larger amount. The payment, in cash or by bond, is due by March 11.

A group of six parents, represented by attorneys Don Springmeyer and Bradley Schrager, won an injunction blocking implementation of the program passed by the 2015 Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Schwartz wanted the parents to pay $205,000 for costs and attorney fees, including $125,000 for the services of former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who was retained by the state to assist in the case. They also sought money to pay a database vendor to provide cloud-based storage services for account information.

The parents’ lawyers countered that any bond should be “nominal,” and that imposing a large bond would have a chilling effect on people challenging the constitutionality of laws.

“A nominal bond in public interest litigation ensures that the courthouse doors remain open for all,” Springmeyer wrote in an earlier brief. Requiring a substantial bond, he said, would essentially deter people of limited means from “bringing public interest litigation.”

The education savings account, or ESA law, is on hold pending appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. It seeks to allow parents to claim the state portion of per-pupil public education funding and use it to send their children to private school or pay for other educational programs. The amount averages about $5,100 per child, per year.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. On Twitter: @SandraChereb. Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley contributed to this report and is reachable at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. On Twitter: @Sean801

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