Press Release: Taxpayers Take State, Douglas County School District to Court
Bi-Partisan Group Claims Vouchers Are Illegal and Unconstitutional
(Denver, CO June 21, 2011) A group of bi-partisan Colorado parents and taxpayers is asking for court intervention to stop a damaging voucher program within the Douglas County School District (DCSD). Taxpayers for Public Education (TFPE) has filed a complaint with the District Court, County of Denver, naming the DCSD, the DCSD Board of Education, the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education as defendants.
The TFPE suit contends that the voucher program violates the Constitution of the State of Colorado as well as the Public School Finance Act and will irreparably harm Colorado public schools and families. The suit filed today by Taxpayers for Public Education is a separate suit from the one filed earlier today from the AU and ACLU and has no connection to the AU/ACLU suit.
“The voucher program is an illegal use of taxpayer dollars that have been set aside for public education and Colorado children,” said Cindy Barnard, President, Taxpayers for Public Education. “What Douglas County is proposing lacks accountability, is inequitable, financially flawed and will hurt all Colorado schools.”
The complaint affirms that, because the voucher students will be enrolled in private schools and not in Douglas County public schools, DCSD is not entitled to state funding for the voucher students.“The law in Colorado is pretty clear,” said Anne Kleinkopf, a director with Taxpayers for Public Education. “The Public School Finance Act specifically directs that state education funds are for 'public education' and 'public schools'.”
TFPE, through its legal representatives, Faegre & Benson and Alex Halpren, LLC, is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from implementing the voucher program. The complaint also alleges that the defendants are acting outside of their legal authority inimplementing and funding the voucher program.
TFPE also believes the voucher program is ripe for potential discrimination. DCSD has confirmed that private schools that receive voucher money will be allowed to use their current admission criteria, including criteria that exclude students based on their academic performance, disciplinary record, religion and other considerations -- criteria that public schools cannot use. In fact, during community meetings earlier this year, a representative of the District admitted that the private schools could discriminate against anyone they chose, including gay and lesbian students, and that the District would not intervene.
In the upcoming fiscal year, the voucher program will take more than $3 million from the State Education Fund, during a time when public education in Colorado is facing punishing budget cuts. Those millions would otherwise be given to public school districts across Colorado that are struggling to provide quality public education for their students in a time of shrinking budgets.
The voucher program will damage public education in Colorado and Colorado families will lose as a result. For more information, please visit: www.taxpayersforpubliceducation.org.
About Taxpayers for Public Education:
Taxpayers for Public Education, (TFPE), is a Colorado-based,
bi-partisan, 501c4 organization. The members are Colorado taxpayers and parents of children enrolled in public schools. TFPE supports public education and believes that a strong public education system is instrumental in building and maintaining an extraordinary workforce that will keep American companies and American entrepreneurship viable and robust to meet the challenges in the years ahead.
Ms. Barnard and Ms. Kleinkopf be available for comment today at 4:00pm in front of the Douglas County School District building, 620 Wilcox, Castle Rock.
President, Taxpayers for Public Education
Director, Taxpayers for Public Education
Read our entire complaint here.