CARSON CITY — A panel of lawmakers broke along party lines on a vote Friday, rejecting regulations that sought to fine tune the implementation of the controversial Achievement School District law.
The vote to adopt regulations that sought to provide more detail for the takeover of under-performing public schools by charters failed on a 6-6 vote by the Legislative Commission, with Democrats opposed.
Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, made the motion to approve the regulations, arguing that they conformed with the 2015 legislation creating the program and so should be approved.
But Democrats, including Sen. Mo Denis and Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, both from Las Vegas, said concerns about implementing the 2015 legislation are better addressed in the 2017 legislative session that begins Feb. 6.
“We are being asked to make a very critical decision knowing that we can make a really good decision in the upcoming legislative session,” Araujo said.
The state Department of Education will implement the 2015 law, which passed without any support from Democrats, law without the regulations. Republicans controlled the Legislature in 2015. Democrats are now in charge.
Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, argued that the regulations improved upon the legislation, including new provisions outlining opportunities for parental involvement in the process.
Jana Wilcox-Lavin, who runs the program for the Education Department, said the biggest disappointment in the vote is that the regulations would have provided parents with details on how they could participate in the achievement school district process.
Instead, the department will determine which public schools will be selected to participate beginning in the fall of 2018, she said.
The first public schools to participate were to be selected Feb. 1. But the five Clark County schools eligible for conversion are getting a one-year reprieve after federal agents began investigating one of the charter operators.
Cambeiro Elementary, Craig Elementary, Orr Middle School, Fitzgerald Elementary and Kelly Elementary all were under consideration to be paired with a charter operator for the 2017-18 year.
But Celerity Educational Group, based in Los Angeles, was raided Wednesday night. The charter group has previously been criticized for fraud and fiscal mismanagement concerns. The charter operator was vying to convert a Clark County school for 2017-18 and had conditional approval from the state to do so.
The process will be delayed while the Department of Education seeks new charter operators to participate in the program.
While the conversion of any traditional public schools has been delayed, Futuro Academy — a state-approved charter operator — will open as as a neighborhood option for students and families attending Cambeiro.
Agassi Prep, an existing charter, will become a Democracy Prep charter school starting in the 2017-18 year as part of the achievement district. Democracy Prep, based in New York City, is also a state-approved operator.
Contact Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.