“Parents are free to send their children to a private religious school if they wish, but Colorado taxpayers should not be forced to pay for it.”
Douglas County has become a battleground in the fight to protect our core civil liberties. Special interests are pouring piles of money into this year’s school board election to revive a voucher scheme that was rejected by the Colorado Supreme Court, because it illegally funnels taxpayer money to private, religious schools.
The Constitution prohibits using public dollars to communicate a religious message. Vouchers directly fund schools that require religious tests, oaths, and teach a single religious point of view. Voucher-funded schools can reject children with disabilities and discriminate against children who already struggle with being treated differently.
Read the Douglas County School Board candidates’ statements on the voucher lawsuit at Chalkbeat Colorado.
About the ACLU’s legal challenge to private school vouchers:
In 2011, Douglas County enacted a “Choice Scholarship Pilot Program” offering tuition vouchers worth $4,575 to 500 students to spend at religious and other private schools. For the purposes of obtaining state per-pupil educational funds, Douglas County created a public charter school, which existed only on paper, and enrolled students in the non-existent charter school. In reality, students were set to attend one of 23 district-approved “Private School Partners,” and the voucher money would be paid to those private schools. 18 of the 23 approved Private School Partners were religious schools. The ACLU of Colorado along with other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the voucher program.
A lower court agreed and struck down the program, but the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Douglas County in February 2013. In June 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the lower court. Douglas County and co-defendants asked the US Supreme Court to hear the case. Instead, the US Supreme Court vacated and remanded the Douglas County case for further consideration in light of the Trinity Lutheran decision giving the Colorado Supreme Court the first opportunity to determine what effect, if any, that ruling may have had on the case.
While pursuing vouchers for out-of-state special interest groups, the current majority on the school board has allowed Douglas County Schools to slip from one of the highest performing districts in Colorado to one that lost its coveted accreditation with distinction.
Learn more about vouchers by visiting our partners’ websites: