Colorado Supreme Court Will Hear Dougco School Choice Case, More Waiting Ahead

One of the fun parts of being an edublogging prodigy is the chance to be spontaneous. Sometimes my plans to write about a certain topic take a back seat when some fresh but long-awaited breaking news. The kind of breaking news that allows me to go back into the archives and stroll down memory lane, while also thinking ahead about what comes next.

This morning the Colorado Supreme Court released its list of case announcements, and what to my young and eager eyes should appear on page 5 but the case of Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District. It said “Petition for Writ of Certiorari GRANTED.”

My smart adult friends told me that means the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear about the famous and groundbreaking Choice Scholarship Program, and settle the legal dispute. For those who need a quick refresher about the currently enjoined (inactive) local private school choice initiative:

Students who reside in Douglas County School District and had been enrolled in a Douglas County public school for at least one year were eligible to apply for a Choice Scholarship. Since scholarship applications exceeded the cap of 500 students for the 2011-2012 school year, the district held a June 2011 lottery. Students who did not win one of the 500 slots were placed on a numbered waiting list.

Under the program, scholarship recipients could receive as much as 75 percent of state per-pupil funding (approximately $4,600 in 2011-12) or the amount of nonpublic school tuition, whichever was less. The Douglas County School District was to issue quarterly checks payable to the parents of Choice Scholarship recipients, which the parents then restrictively endorsed to the participating nonpublic schools that accepted their students for enrollment.

It’s not really surprising that the state’s supreme court wants to weigh in. The hard part for the young and the restless is that we’ve had to wait more than a year since the Court of Appeals handed students and parents a fantastic victory. Even harder to believe is that we just passed the third anniversary of the Douglas County school board adopting the program.

The hard part, though, is that with each announcement comes more waiting. Sources tell me that the opening briefs from the plaintiffs — those who don’t want kids and parents to have so much choice — are due to the court on April 28. Then we’re getting into June before the good guys respond, and another four weeks before the other side responds to the response.

All told, that probably means it will be fall (so at least six more months) before the big oral arguments before the Colorado Supreme Court. Then who knows when the ruling will come down? It could end up being a full four years before families can take advantage of this option — thanks to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the like. Check out this 2011 Choice Media golden oldie video:

If you need another great way to pass the time while waiting for more developments, don’t forget to bookmark Great Choice Douglas County, and stay tuned for more developments, hopefully coming soon!