21st 2011
Legal Complaint against DougCo Vouchers Rooted in Irony, Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Posted under Courts & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & State Board of Education

It’s the first day of summer, “longest day of the year” — which may have something to do with trying to get as much attention as possible for a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and friends to try to stop Douglas County’s choice scholarship (voucher) program. Ed News Colorado was among the first to report today:

Some Douglas County parents and three civil liberties groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Douglas County’s pilot voucher program, set to launch this fall.

The suit, filed this morning in Denver District Court by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, seeks a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the plan.

Douglas County school district officials did not quickly respond to a request for comment. They have scheduled a 3:30 p.m. press conference today at Castle View High School in Castle Rock to discuss the suit. [emphasis added]

Civil liberties? Is the irony lost on anyone that they are fighting to take away educational freedoms from parents and families? Maybe only certain kinds of choice are “civil liberties.” Guess I might just be too young to grasp all the nuance. But I will be gracious enough to hold out hope that opponents could change their minds about vouchers.

Speaking of irony, after railing against a number of religious schools, the plaintiffs wrap up with a “prayer of relief” to the judge. Maybe they are just terribly confused. Reading through the complaint, you get the impression they believe that parents will be forced to send their children to schools they don’t want — especially those icky religious schools. And maybe they don’t realize, or just don’t care about, the “nativist, anti-Catholic bigotry” in the Colorado constitution on which their case is constructed.

Anyway, below I’ve pasted a press release from my Education Policy Center friends, followed by some important links to previous writings on Douglas County:

Lawsuit Against Dougco Voucher Program Draws Fire
Institute Decries Attempt to Stifle Parental Choice through Courts

GOLDEN, Colo.— The Independence Institute, Colorado’s leading voice for free market policy, denounces a newly-filed lawsuit designed to stop a groundbreaking school board program from helping local families to pay for a chosen private education.

Today the American Civil Liberties Union and other school choice foes filed formal legal action to stop Douglas County families from using district vouchers to choose a private school.

“The lawsuit is disappointing, but really not surprising,” said Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno. “Opponents of parental choice and educational freedom have tried this approach many times before. For the sake of the families who will benefit, we hope it fails.”

On March 15, 2011, the Douglas County R-1 Board of Education unanimously approved a groundbreaking pilot program to issue publicly-funded “choice scholarships” to enroll at a “partner” private school. The program’s design answers the objection in the Colorado Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling that struck down a statewide voucher program on the basis of an alleged violation of the state constitution’s provision for local school board control of instruction.

Nearly 500 current Douglas County students who applied for a choice scholarship each will be able to use $4,575 in tax funds to cover or defray private tuition costs for the 2011-12 school year. Thirty-one private schools applied to meet minimum requirements and become a “partner” school. Nineteen schools—including five independent, non-religious schools—thus far have been approved to receive choice scholarship students.

“What’s exciting for Douglas County parents is they have a genuine range of options,” Benigno said. “Parents can choose between different kinds of religious and non-religious schools. Unfortunately, some people find certain choices offensive.”

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 a private school parental choice program.


9 Responses to “Legal Complaint against DougCo Vouchers Rooted in Irony, Anti-Catholic Bigotry”

  1. Independence Institute: Jon Caldara » Ed Center’s Response to ACLU Suit on 21 Jun 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    [...] Little Eddie also responded to the lawsuit on his blog Ed Is Watching. [...]

  2. Peoples Press Collective | Colorado Politics | Ed Center’s Response to ACLU Suit : on 21 Jun 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    [...] Eddie also responded to the lawsuit on his blog Ed Is Watching. Category: Colorado Politics, DNC, PPC Tags: ACLU > Caldara > education > jon caldara > School [...]

  3. Kevin J Jones on 22 Jun 2011 at 1:18 am #

    Florida voters will consider repealing their Blaine Amendment in 2012 (Search on terms like HJR 1471 /the Religious Freedom Act.) Since this is the hitch for the Douglas Co. voucher program, perhaps a similar ballot measure could succeed in Colorado?

    The repeal would add local flexibility in a time of tight budgets, especially for growing districts which can’t afford to build new schools.

  4. GoBash.org » Blog Archive » Good to See Douglas County Leaders Stand Up Against Shameful Anti-Choice Lawsuit on 22 Jun 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    [...] Interfaith Alliance, and Douglas County’s “Taxpayers for Public Education.” These so-called “civil liberties” groups have combined to file two legal complaints that attempt to stop the new Choice Scholarship [...]

  5. Ed is Watching » Unbelievable: TWO Lawsuits Now to Stop Dougco Families’ Educational Choices on 23 Jun 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    [...] two days since reactionary forces — the forces of WE know what’s best for you — dropped a lawsuit bomb to try to stop 500 Douglas County students from getting better educational opportunity? Colorado [...]

  6. Ed is Watching » Hooray! Institute for Justice Stands Up for Dougco Choice Scholarship Families on 28 Jun 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    [...] Douglas County families who face potential harm from lawsuits filed by the ACLU and other groups to try to shut down the Choice Scholarship [...]

  7. Ed is Watching » If It’s So Urgent, Why Did ACLU & Co. Wait So Long to Stop Dougco Vouchers? on 26 Jul 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    [...] groups like the ACLU have their reasons for wanting to shut down the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program and take educational [...]

  8. Dougco Voucher Disaster on 14 Aug 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    [...] the past 6 months I’ve been watching the controversy going on over school vouchers in the Douglas County School District here in Colorado. To give you a quick and dirty back [...]

  9. Douglas County School Board – Board of Education Meeting TONIGHT 2011 :: Parker CO | Parker Community Blog | Parker Events | Parker Things to do | Douglas County News and Events on 16 Aug 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    [...] Voucher Disaster – By Barb Likos – Over the past 6 months I’ve been watching the controversy going on over school vouchers in the Douglas County School District here in Colorado. To give you a quick and dirty back [...]

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