Douglas County Board of Education says it may appeal voucher ruling to U.S. Supreme Court

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. - Colorado's Supreme Court decided that Douglas County's Choice Scholarship Pilot Program violates the state's Constitution, but the fight over the controversial program may not be over yet.

"Our legal team will take a careful and thoughtful, lawyerly look at the decision entered by the Colorado Supreme Court today," said Board of Education Director Craig Richardson. "We will evaluate seeking a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court."

"There is reason to believe the U.S. Supreme Court will take an interest in the case," Richardson added.

Taxpayers for Public Education originally sued the Douglas County School District in 2011, contending that DougCo's voucher system violated the Colorado Constitution and the Public School Finance Act.

The school board offered up to 500 students $4,575 each in state funds for tuition at private schools.

Monday, Colorado's Supreme Court ruled that the program violated article IX, section 7 of the Colorado Constitution. That provision specifically prohibits the government from spending money in support of a school controlled by a religious group.

A majority of the schools involved in the 2011 program were religious in nature.

"The amount of that voucher that they were paying for students to go to private school was not near enough to cover the tuition for a private school education," said Cindra Barnard, of Taxpayers for Public Education. "Therefore, this was not a program meant for everybody, it was never written that way."

"This could very well be simply a case of delayed gratification," said Board of Education president Kevin Larsen. "While Douglas County and Colorado kids may have to wait just a little bit longer to get their full access to choice, ultimately we believe this will pave the way for all U.S. students to be free of the yoke of the Blaine Amendment and exercise their free choice in educational opportunities."

Richardson said Monday that the district has spent an estimated $1.2 million so far in their fight to support the program. He said that money came entirely from private donations.

Richardson did not have an estimated cost for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For Jeremy Yoder and his six children, the option of sending his children to private school is now not an option.

“We want to find the best educational opportunity for our kids.  And that’s why this is a disappointment today,” said Yoder.

“We had tried home schooling, we’ve tried a couple of different charter schools,” said the Castle Rock resident. “Why can’t parents choose what’s best for their own kids.”

Print this article Back to Top