- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - State Treasurer Dan Schwartz is getting pushback from state lawyers over a rule he proposed to help military families and kindergartners more easily access Nevada’s new education savings accounts.

Schwartz drew high praise from military families last month when he proposed exempting them from a requirement to attend public school for 100 days before participating in the school choice program. The accounts allows parents to claim a portion of their child’s per-pupil state education funding for private school tuition or other qualified education expenses.

State lawyers with the Legislative Counsel Bureau said last week that they don’t think Schwartz has the authority to make such exemptions from the 100-day rule passed by the Legislature. The provision aimed to prevent thousands of current private school students from tapping into the funds all at once and straining the state budget.

On the kindergarten provision, the lawyers say education savings accounts only apply to children 7 and older who are required to attend school.

Schwartz responded Monday, arguing the military exemption can stand because of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, a measure passed in 2009 and aimed at ensuring military children aren’t disadvantaged in school by their parents’ frequent moves.

“Nevada has long stood by its military families and veterans, and the ESA Program is no exception,” Schwartz wrote.

Gov. Brian Sandoval also pointed to the compact in support of the military exemption policy. His office said Tuesday that the lawmakers on the Legislative Commission, which would vote on any regulations that make it out of the treasurer’s office, are the final arbiters of regulatory authority.

On the kindergarten provision, Schwartz said the legislation doesn’t address how to handle children who are younger than 7. But he said the state does account for them when it comes to allocating money for their education.

Bill author Sen. Scott Hammond “has stressed that the Legislature believed these children ages 5-7 did not have to meet the 100-day requirement,” Schwartz wrote, adding that his kindergarten rule is meant to clarify parts of the law and ensure legislative intent is followed.

The disagreement prompted Schwartz to indefinitely postpone a final vote on the regulations that had been scheduled last week.

Money is expected to start flowing to the program in February, although it’s facing two lawsuits that have cast doubt on its future.

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