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Press Release from TFPE

on Mon, 03/17/2014 - 23:43

Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Voucher Case

Non-partisan Group Confident High Court Will Uphold Trial Court Ruling

DENVER- The Colorado Supreme Court today accepted the appeal of the non-partisan group, Taxpayers for Public Education (TFPE) in a lawsuit challenging the Douglas County School District’s voucher program.  The Court agreed to hear every one of the challenges in the TFPE lawsuit.

“We are elated that the Colorado Supreme Court has recognized the tremendous and far reaching implications of our challenge of the Douglas County voucher program,” said Cindy Barnard, President, TFPE. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the trial court’s finding that the voucher program is illegal and unconstitutional.”

In its Order, the Supreme Court announced it would consider the following issues:

  1.  Whether the voucher program violates the Public School Finance Act (the “Act”) by “including 500 Program students ‘enrolled’ in an illusory Charter School who actually attend private Schools in the District and elsewhere in the District’s student count for funding.”
  2. Whether the voucher program unconstitutionally provides state aid to sectarian institutions, by “diverting state educational funds intended for Douglas County public school students to private elementary and secondary schools controlled by churches and religious organizations.”
  3. Whether the voucher program violates the ‘compelled support’ provision of the Colorado Constitution, by “directing taxpayer funds to churches and religious organizations, and by compelling students enrolled in a public charter school to attend religious services.”
  4. Whether the voucher program violates the ‘compelled attendance’ provision of the Colorado Constitution, by “requiring students who are enrolled in a public charter school, and counted by Douglas County as public school students, to be taught religious tenets, submit to religious admission tests, and attend religious services.”

The Court also agreed to consider issues relating to standing and presumption of constitutionality.

On August 12, 2011, the Denver trial court found that the voucher program violated both the Colorado Constitution and the Public School Finance Act.  The trial court enjoined the voucher program and prohibited the District from pursuing the program.  The case was overturned on appeal from the District, and will now go to the Colorado Supreme Court.