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Dougco Choice Injunction: What Now for Families? Who All Will Appeal?

My Education Policy Center friends told you the judge’s decision last Friday to put the brakes on the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program would create a lot of chaos for families. That’s the question of the hour: What are the more than 300 students who had received scholarships (and some had already started schools) going to do?

Just like families make different choices based on their students’ educational needs, so many of their fallback scenarios will be different. FOX 31 News highlights one Castle Rock family:

Two of Becky Barnes’ kids were enrolled in the voucher program. Now unable to pay their private school tuition she is working hard to get them enrolled in public schools. Her first grader will go back to the neighborhood school.

Her 7th grader will attend cyber school. Other families are choosing to stay at their private school and pay the tuition.

Becky Barnes is one of three parents whose emergency education plans were documented today in an article by Karin Piper. Another parent was Diana Oakley, mother of Nate Oakley, for whom things seem to be working out at least for now:

Humanex [Academy], she said, had been so gracious to her and her family.

When she spoke with them yesterday the school leaders had agreed with her that she had done what was right for Nathaniel. This, Humanex said, was their goal too. They had told Diana that they would honor their agreement with her and hope that the $4,500 the school would stand to possibly lose, would somehow work out too. Nobody has the details or firm solutions, but Nate would not be feeling the consequences.

Diana is so grateful to Humanex and will continue supporting Douglas County School Board in their quest to overturn last week’s verdict.

Another good outcome in the short-term highlighted in Piper’s article appears to have worked out for Melissa Grissom and her son Ashton, who had found a great fit at Valor Christian:

Valor had sent out a letter telling the families they do not want anyone to feel like they have to leave. The pilot program had been a risk for the district, the families—and the private schools alike. While $4,500 multiplied by the significant number of students Valor has accepted with the scholarships is too much for Valor to absorb, they asked everyone to prayerfully consider contributing more. This is admittedly an offer that Valor cannot guarantee for every year, so there is still a level of risk involved.

Valor, like Humanex, does not want the children to leave.

As Head of School Kurt Unruh explained in his email to the school’s Choice Scholarship families, they are doing all they can to ensure these students can stay on board at Valor through the 2011-12 school year. After that, it’s up in the air.

While some scholarship families are finding relief and good outcomes in the wake of potentially devastating news from Denver District Court, that isn’t the case for all. A neat website called Mile High Mamas notes a couple examples of concern:

[Private school Woodlands Academy in Castle Rock] still has more than a week before classes begin, but students who must return to Douglas County schools will get a late start on an academic year that, at many schools, began Aug. 1.

What’s more, any student who gave up a spot in a charter school to participate in the voucher program may have trouble reclaiming that seat, as many have waiting lists.

On the other hand, Mile High Mamas also features the good news that the Institute for Justice will appeal the injunction ruling. There is some added reason for hope, given yesterday’s other good news that an Indiana judge denied an injunction request on a similar new program enacted by the state of Indiana. Concerned families still await the Douglas County School District’s decision on a possible appeal.