Sandoval vetoes high school proficiency exam bill

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed a bill that would have allowed some high school seniors who do not receive passing scores on all parts of the proficiency exam to receive full-fledged diplomas.

Assembly Bill 456 had been amended last week so it would go into effect immediately and help struggling students this year.

“Although this bill may allow more students to graduate from high school, it represents diminished expectations for our students and lower standards for obtaining a high school diploma in Nevada,” said Sandoval in his veto message. “In my State of the State address, I said that our education system emphasizes too many of the wrong things. AB456 is another example of this paradigm and would send the wrong message to our students.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Thursday that there will be no votes taken to try to override Sandoval’s veto of the high school bill or three other vetoes made Wednesday evening by the governor.

During hearings, Clark County School District officials said they expected 100 more students a year would receive diplomas if the bill became law. Many of those would be students who fell a few points short of the passing score on the math portion of the four-part test, while passing the other sections.

To qualify, students would have needed to have at least a 2.75 grade-point average, complete all class requirements and have good attendance records.

The bill passed the Assembly 33-9 and the Senate 13-8 with Republicans voting in opposition.

“I am committed to improving our education system and enhancing student achievement,” Sandoval said. “Because this bill provides a way to hide or ignore a student’s achievement problems, rather than fix it, I veto it.”

Kelly Camargo, 17, a senior at Liberty High School in Henderson, is graduating this month but was disappointed the bill was vetoed.

“I have plenty of people I know who have missed (passing the proficiency exam) by one point, two points maybe even three points, ” Camargo said. “For him not to pass the bill is not good. I don’t like it.”

Legislators this session have not tried to override any of the four previous vetoes made by Sandoval. His eight vetoes this session pale in comparison with the record 48 vetoes by former Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2009.

Sandoval also on Wednesday vetoed these bills:

■ AB253, which would have increased fines by as much as $30,000 against employers who willfully violate Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Act rules. Almost all Republicans had voted against the bill, and Democrats lack the two-thirds bloc needed to override the veto.

■ AB254, which would have increased the ability of the state to cite employers for failing to correct workplace conditions when “any employee has access to a hazard.” Sandoval said that job site safety improvements were made in 2009 and he supported safety improvements, but the bill was “ambiguous.” Most Republicans also opposed the bill.

■ AB135, which would have required judges to make additional findings before revoking the probation of probation violators. Sandoval, a former federal judge, said the bill “undermines the ability of courts to effectively enforce sentences.” The bill passed on party-line votes.

Review-Journal writer James Haug contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

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