- On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the school voucher program at Douglas County, one of the largest in the state, was unconstitutional because it sent taxpayer dollars to religious institutions.
- The voucher program was passed in 2011 and would have allowed roughly 500 of Douglas County students to attend private schools approved by the district, subsidized in part by the district’s per-pupil funding.
- The district approved 23 schools, of which 16 were religious schools.
Douglas County’s program was modeled on similar ones in other states that won out in court but the Colorado court’s ruling was unequivocal in stating that taxpayer dollars could not fund a student’s religious education. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Nancy Rice stated, “[T]he Colorado Constitution prohibits school districts from aiding religious schools…The CSP has created financial partnerships between the District and religious schools and, in so doing, has facilitated students attending such schools.”
A dissenting opinion, which gained the support of three of the court’s seven justices, said that the ruling could theoretically eliminate funding for transportation infrastructure like roads and sidewalks near religious schools, since the schools “‘rely on’ state-paid infrastructure to operate their institutions.”