Appeals Court Panel Renews Dougco Families’ Hopes

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

“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

Posted by on Feb 28th, 2013 and filed under Latest on K-12 issues, School Choice, Vouchers & Tax Credits. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

8 Responses for “Appeals Court Panel Renews Dougco Families’ Hopes”

  1. [...] I am going to be catching my breath all day, I’m so excited by this fantastic news from the Colorado Court of Appeals today: [...]

  2. George says:

    The Co-Dependence Institute is nothing if not entertaining — and this is certainly amusing news, showing once again how quickly the Right abandons its principles when there’s money to be made. Conservatives rail constantly against “judicial activism” — especially when courts are used to overturn the will of the voters. And it’s been voters, you’ll recall, who soundly rejected school vouchers not once but twice in statewide referendums. But the Institute, lured by hearty contributions from the education-for-profit industry, abandoned that principle in this case, trampling the will of Colorado voters in a headlong rush to seek out some judicial activism of its own just like any good liberal would, and in the process help the Institute’s coffers (de)grow. … Another juicy example of this hypocrisy revolves around the issue of hydraulic fracturing. On any other day, a conservative will stand by the principle of local self-determination as opposed to the one-size-fits-all edicts of a powerful and remote central government. However, with its palms greased (literally) with money from the American Petroleum Institute and its fellow travelers and Koch-suckers, the Right is gleefully applauding the state’s Shell-shilled Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as it runs to court — again, as any good liberal would — to further empower Comrade Hickenlooper’s Big Central Government and trample the rights of Fort Collins and the voters of Longmont to control their own living spaces. … So “straight on” indeed, Mr. Caldara. I guess it’s true: You can take the boy out of Boulder, but you can’t take Boulder out of the boy.

  3. [...] program. Today the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned that order. For more information see our media release here. Like so many other advances to help children in Colorado, I am so proud of Pam and Ben’s part [...]

  4. ben says:

    George – The only ones trying to “overturn the will of the voters” are the plaintiffs who sued to stop a local action taken by a duly-elected school board. But thanks so much for taking time to join with us today in celebrating this legal victory on behalf of all Douglas County students and families.

  5. cynthia says:

    @ Ben: unfortunately for you, the parents, by a significant majority want the ability to have their children schooled in the institution of THEIR choosing, not that of the teachers’ unions’ or ACLU’s choosing. If they did not, why then is there a waiting list for this program? Why then are there currently 500 students and families of same ecstatic at this hard-DEFENDED program that will give them exactly what they have not been able to obtain in government-run programs? Are you so afraid of the family’s ability to choose where their tax dollars are spent that you would deny them that right or are you in favor of government indoctrination to a level so incredible that we produce the lowest possible common denominator of output – children who wouldn’t know how to read, write, or even spell comprehensibly? It seems to me you would prefer a “low information” public rather than a truly educated one!

  6. Steve says:

    Give it a rest, George. Your liberal hypocrisy is showing. Liberal Courts block educational vouchers based on “local control” – GOOD! Liberal Courts block educational vouchers in Dougco, based on State control – GOOD! Get a life! Your side needs government force to prevent the voluntary cooperation among those “Free to Choose” to protect, not the kids, but the “Educrats” from competition.

  7. ben says:

    Cynthia, You’re preaching to the choir! :) I think you may have meant to direct your comments at George, but I strongly share your sentiments on this important issue!

  8. [...] You can read the Education Policy Center’s press release about the Appeals Court ruling here. Posted by ben on Feb 28th, 2013 and filed under In The News, School Choice, Vouchers & Tax Credits. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site [...]

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