DENVER—The Independence Institute, Colorado’s leading pro-freedom policy voice, praised today’s decision to restore a groundbreaking school choice program previously struck down by a Denver judge.
The Colorado Court of Appeals today overturns an August 2011 ruling that permanently enjoined the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program. A majority of the three-judge panel ruled that plaintiffs “failed to carry their burden of proving the unconstitutionality of the CSP beyond a reasonable doubt” and that they lack standing to make their case.
(A copy of the opinion is posted at http://bit.ly/WjOq3S.)
“Today’s ruling is an important win for scholarship students and their families,” said Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno. “This opens the door to providing students with more educational opportunities.”
The Appeals Court ruling follows oral arguments presented November 19, 2012. Judges pressed attorneys from both sides, leaving doubt as to which arguments they might have accepted. Both sides have strongly indicated they would challenge an unfavorable ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.
“This decision vindicates the courage of the Douglas County school board and their constitutional authority to act on behalf of all students and families in their community,” Benigno said.
In March 2011, the Douglas County Board of Education unanimously approved the groundbreaking pilot choice program. As enacted, the Board provided 500 students public scholarship funds to attend one of more than 20 private partner schools. Twenty-five percent of Per-Pupil Revenue would be retained to afford a fiscal benefit to the school district.
Along with a number of local community members and school leaders, Benigno and senior education policy analyst Ben DeGrow served on the Douglas County School Choice Task Force that helped to craft a number of district policy recommendations, including for the establishment of private school parental choice. DeGrow also is chairman of the Choice Scholarship School created in 2011 to implement the program.
The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver. Informational resources on the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program can be found at /douglas-county-vouchers/.