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Choice Scholarship Program

Choice Grant Program ended, legal defense of Choice Scholarship Program continues

Citing concerns regarding the cost of defending two versions of the same program, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education voted on November 15, 2016 to rescind the Choice Grant Program. The program approved by the Board in March 2016, was a revision of the Choice Scholarship Program, which would have served 500 DCSD students, providing their families a grant that can be used to offset the cost of non-religious private schools. It, however, was halted in August by Denver District Judge Michael Martinez, who ruled that the Grant Program is not substantially different from its predecessor program.

DCSD seeks U.S. Supreme Court ruling
The legal defense of the original Choice Scholarship Program continues. The Choice Scholarship Program was heard by the state’s highest court in December 2014 and the decision was released on June 29, 2015. The Colorado Supreme Court's ruling overturns the February 2013 decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals, when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the District, finding that the program was constitutional under Colorado’s basic law and did not violate state law. 

The Colorado Supreme Court’s sharply divided ruling relies on Article IX, Section 7, otherwise known as the Blaine Amendment, which states that no public funds can be used to aid or support any “sectarian” institution. 

While the Colorado court held that the portion of the program that allows for participation by religious private schools was unconstitutional under the Colorado Constitution, the ruling validated several of DCSD’s arguments, opening the door for DCSD students and parents to be able to use a portion of DCSD per pupil revenue to offset the costs of non-religious private schools.

DCSD still disagrees with the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling regarding religious schools. On October 28, the District filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari and is awaiting response from the Court. Additionally, at the time, district leaders believed that the ruling, which upheld many key elements of the Choice Scholarship Program, opened an opportunity to move forward with a modified version of the program, allowing students to receive scholarships for attending secular private schools, which lead to the creation of the Choice Grant Program. Again, the Grant Program has since been rescinded.

READ MORE: DCSD Press Release on Colorado Supreme Court Ruling
WATCH: DCSD holds press conference following Colorado Supreme Court ruling
READ MORE: Colorado Supreme Court Opinion

 



About the Choice Scholarship Program
Passed in March of 2011, the Choice Scholarship Program would provide up to 500 Douglas County students with grants to be used for 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 no less than one year. In the event that the number of applicants exceeds 500 a lottery would be conducted to select scholarship recipients.

The program was patterned after similar programs upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court or other state courts. Grants will be provided to parents, who may choose whichever secular private partner school they wish.

 

Choice Scholarship School
The Board of Education created the program so that the District will provide 85% of the per pupil revenue as a grant to the students’ families. Those families then choose private-partner school that best fits their educational needs.

The Choice Scholarship School will be accountable for the student’s success. In fact, the district will closely monitor each student’s progress—through DCSD administered assessments and close communication with private partner schools.

Private-Partner Schools
In 2011, prior to the injunction, the Douglas County School District accepted applications from all interested private schools in area. Each school had to submit to a rigorous analysis of its academic programs and financial records. Under the recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling, religious schools will not be eligible to participate in the Grant program. Schools are not required to alter their admittance requirements as a part of applying to partner with DCSD.

Potential Private-Partner Schools

School

Address

City

Zip Code

Approved

Accelerated Schools

2160 South Cook Street

Denver

80210

 

Alpine Valley School

4501 Parfet St

Wheat Ridge

80033

 

Aspen Academy

5859 S. University Blvd.

Greenwood Village

80121

 

Beacon Country Day School

6100 E. Belleview

Greenwood Village

80111

 

Colorado International School

4100 E. Iliff Avenue

Denver

80222

 

Denver Academy

4400 E Iliff Ave. Denver 80222  

Denver Waldorf School

940 Fillmore Denver 80206  

Devereux Colorado

8405 Church Ranch Blvd. Westminster 80021  

Escuela Tlatelolco Centro De Estudios

2949 Federal Blvd. Denver 80211  

Fountain Valley School of Colorado

6155 Fountain Valley School Rd.

Colorado Springs

80911

 

Foothills Academy

 4725 Miller St. Wheat Ridge 80033  

Garland Country

55 Clermont St. Denver 80220  

Humanex

2700 S. Zuni Street

Englewood

80110

 

Hillspring Learning Center

2776 Janitell Rd Colorado Springs 80906  

Joshua School

2303 E Dartmouth Ave

Englewood

80113

 

Mackintosh Academy

7018 S Prince Street Littleton 80120  

Stanley British Primary School

350 Quebec Street Denver 80230  

The Colorado Springs School

21 Broadmoor Ave. Colorado Springs 80906  
The Logan School 1005 Yosemite Street Denver 80906  

 


CHOICE SCHOLARSHIP LEGAL FUND
The defense of the DCSD Choice Scholarship Program has been mounted using privately raised funds and no taxpayer dollars. Donations have been accepted via the Choice Scholarship Legal Fund. We greatly appreciate the support of our many generous donors.

Resources

Timeline

March 2011
Board of Education passes Choice Scholarship Program (CSP)

July 2011
DCSD launches
 CSP program, holds lottery for scholarships

August 13, 2011
Denver District Court issues permanent injunction

February 29, 2013
Colorado Court of Appeals overturns Denver District Court ruling

December 10, 2014
Colorado Supreme Court hears oral arguments

June 29, 2015
Colorado Supreme Court overturns Court of Appeals ruling

October 28, 2015
DCSD files Writ of Certiorari wtih US Supreme Court

March 15, 2016
Board of Education approves revised Choice Grant Pilot Program

August 8, 2016
Denver District Court enjoins Choice Grant Pilot Program

November 15, 2016
Board of Education rescinds Choice Grant Program

 

 

Colorado Court of Appeals Documents

Choice Scholarship Pilot Program Documents

Choice Scholarship Legal Fund Documents