March 2018 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Colorado’s Supreme Court agreed to dismiss a lawsuit Americans United and its allies had filed in 2011 to challenge a private school voucher scheme enacted by the Douglas County School Board. The dismissal came at the joint request of both sides in the suit, Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District, after the school board voted to end the program.

Americans United, joined by the American Civil Liber­ties Union, its Colorado branch and the law firm Arnold & Porter, filed the lawsuit on behalf of local parents and taxpayers who objected to their tax dollars being used to fund private, mostly religious schools. The voucher plan made up to 500 students eligible to receive $4,575 in tax­payer funds to attend private schools each year.

AU and allies explained to the courts that Douglas County’s voucher scheme violated the state constitution and the residents’ religious freedom. Colorado’s consti­tution contains a provision that prevents public dollars from being used to fund religious education.

The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with AU in 2015 when it struck down the program. The district, with pro-voucher members still leading the school board at the time, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last summer the high court sent the case back to the Colorado Supreme Court for further review.

In November, voters ousted the pro-voucher board and replaced them with a slate that supports public education. The newly constituted board subsequently voted to end the program.

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