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Douglas County School Board Says It Has Already Taken Steps To Enact Its Controversial Voucher Program

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State education officials and the Douglas County School District filed a motion last Friday asking the court to allow them to carry out their pilot vouchers despite a preliminary injunction filed almost three weeks prior, according to Education News Colorado.

Douglas County's Choice Scholarship Pilot Program is facing a lawsuit Aug. 2 filed by three civil liberties unions, including the ACLU, and parents who say that taxpayer funds intended to go into Colorado's public education system should not be diverted to private schools because it unlawfully blurs separation between church and state laws. Since the school year in the county begins Aug. 1, the plaintiffs also filed a preliminary injunction to force the vouchers from even beginning.

But the defendants' court response says that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have acted too late because the district has already distributed over $158,000 in funds to private schools for 140 students. The document says that plaintiffs waited too long to register their complaint with the court, nearly four months after the voucher program was voted into action and allege that canceling the program now would only inconvenience families.

An excerpt from the defendants' court response to injunction (scroll down to read defendants' response in full):

Months ago scholarship students withdrew from their prior schools; those slots have now been filled. Students have enrolled in the partner schools, who have made staffing decisions, scheduled classes, and bought supplies based upon their admission. Parents have paid tuition, bought uniforms and school supplies, and generally re-arranged their lives to permit their child to attend a partner school of their choice...In short, the evidence will show massive disruption will occur to families, partner schools, and Douglas County schools if this Court tries to unwind this Program at this late date. Because Plaintiffs are asking for a preliminary mandatory injunction, disrupting the status quo, their burden is much heavier. They cannot meet that burden. The balance of equities strongly favors permitting the Program to continue.

In an opinion piece published by the Denver Post, conservative talk radio host Mike Rosen wrote that the voucher is being attacked by left-wing idealists, but that it is also an experiment that should be given its chance.

The goal is to provide diverse, quality education for students, not to defend the status quo. This kind of competition in other fields forces established enterprises to improve their product and become more responsive to the needs of customers. The Dougco School Board should be commended for having the courage to put their schools to the market test...Lefties aren't afraid it will fail; they're afraid it will succeed. That's why they're so desperate to strangle this baby in its crib.

Read the defendants' combined response to motions for preliminary injunction here: Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction

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