Magazine article Church & State

State Court Says Voucher Law Violates Colorado Constitution

Magazine article Church & State

State Court Says Voucher Law Violates Colorado Constitution

Article excerpt

Colorado's school voucher law violates provisions of the state constitution and may not be implemented, a state court has held.

District Judge Joseph E. Meyer III ruled Dec. 3 that the program runs afoul of a section of the state constitution that requires local school boards to maintain significant control over funding of district schools.

Americans United praised the ruling, saying it will prevent Colorado school districts from being forced to implement voucher plans. The program was slated to take effect this year. Billed as a "pilot project," it was to be limited to 11 districts, but many critics said they believe the effort would be the first step toward a statewide voucher plan.

Last spring, Americans United along with the ACLU of Colorado, the National Education Association and other public interest groups brought suit against the school voucher law on a number of state constitutional grounds. The groups represented Colorado parents, clergy and taxpayers.

"Local school boards should not be placed under a state-issued mandate to fund religious or other private schools," said Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "State lawmakers and pro-voucher lobbying groups were so bent on ramming a statewide voucher system into law that they overlooked the legitimate interests of local school officials. This ruling reinforces the state constitutional right of local school boards to maintain control over funding of public education."

Lynn added that the ruling was also a victory for those concerned about state funding of sectarian schools. …

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