Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Appeal Regarding DCSD Choice Scholarship Program
Douglas County, CO – The Colorado Supreme Court today announced it will hear an appeal regarding the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Choice Scholarship Pilot Program.
Implemented in March of 2011, the Choice Scholarship Program will provide up to 500 Douglas County students with scholarships to the qualified private-partner school of their choice. In order to be eligible, students must be Douglas County School District residents who are currently attending a DCSD school and have been in the District for no less than one year.
“Today, as expected, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in the case of LaRue v Douglas County School District,” said DCSD Board of Education Director Craig Richardson. “The District welcomes the opportunity for the state’s highest court to review a case that presents such important issues for our state and our country. DCSD is committed to expanding choice for parents and one of the ways is our innovative Choice Scholarship Program,” said Richardson.
A coalition of special interest groups, including the ACLU and Americans for Separation of Church and State, had sued the District to halt the Choice Scholarship Program. In February 2013, a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the District, finding that the program was constitutional and did not violate state law. After that ruling in favor of the District, the same coalition of special interest groups asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review the case.
“Because of its statewide and national importance, in its order issued today, the Court agreed to review the case,” said Richardson. “The Supreme Court's accepting review is purely procedural, and it does not mean that the Court disagrees with the ruling of the Court of Appeals. It simply means that the Court recognizes the importance of the case for our state and our country.”
The Court will now receive briefs on the merits, hear oral arguments by the parties, and eventually issue a decision. Based on the compelling legal reasoning and analytical strength of the decision by the Court of Appeals, the Douglas County School District and Board of Education are highly confident in the outcome.
The Choice Scholarship Program is an initiative, inaugurated by the DCSD Board of Education in March 2011, as part of the DCSD ‘Choice Blueprint’ strategic plan, which provides funding for a limited number of students to attend certain private ‘partner’ schools meeting the District’s criteria for academic quality and educational rigor. Just as the program was getting underway, in the summer of 2011, it was temporarily blocked at the request of the coalition of special interest groups.
“Our District, using privately raised funds and no taxpayer dollars, mounted a defense of the DCSD Choice Scholarship Program in the courts. We were joined in that cause by the State of Colorado, as well as groups of parents who wanted their children to participate in the pilot program in order to improve their academic achievement,” continued Richardson.
“We believe the Court of Appeals will be affirmed and that the parents and children of our District will, someday soon, be afforded more educational choice.”