Tag Archives: Schools

Taxpayers for Public Education, et. al. v. Douglas County School District, 2015CO50 (June 29, 2015)

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions.” Ulysses Grant. Petitioners challenged a scholarship program that required enrollment in a “charter school” and admission to a qualified private school. Taxpayer money funded the scholarship, which was paid to the parents who then paid the private school. Nearly 93% of recipients enrolled in religious schools. The Court held the program unconstitutional under Colorado’s expansive prohibition on public funding of “sectarian” schools because the program “supports and sustains” such schools. The element of private choice was insufficient absent safeguards against funding religious schools. As such, invalidating the program does not violate the 1st Amendment. Petitioners lacked taxpayer standing to challenge the program under a statute.

https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2013/13SC233.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9843&courtid=2

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government, Proceedure

Nicole S. Hanlen, Lynn D. Ussery, James H. Joy, June Marie McNees, Kelly L. McNees, Karen Marquez, Meagan Gabaldon, and David J. Rodenbaugh, v. Scott Gessler as Colorado Secretary of State, and Karen Long, as Clerk and Recorder for Adams County; Jim F. Candelarie, as Clerk and Recorder for the City and County of Broomfield; and Frances E. Mullins, as Designated Election Official for Adams 12 Five Star School District, 2014CO24 (April 7, 2014)

“Employ every economy consistent with thoroughness, accuracy and reliability.” – Arthur C. Nielsen. An election official failed to notice a candidate was ineligible until after ballots were printed. The Secretary issued an emergency Rule of general applicability allowing election officials to declare the candidate ineligible and direct that votes are invalid and must not be counted. The Court held the Rule invalid. First, it conflicts it conflicts with a statute allowing votes for a disqualified candidate in a partisan election to be counted. Second, it usurps the court’s express authority to determine eligibility issues after the ballot is certified. The Court’s appellate jurisdiction was not based on the election code, however. Rather, the Court invoked CAR 21 sua sponte and it limited its decision to determining the validity of the Rule under the APA, not the validity of the election.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2013/13SA306.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9312&courtid=2

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Erin A. Young, individually and on behalf of and as next friend of C.Y.; and C.Y., a minor, through his parent Erin A. Young, v. Brighton School District 27J, 2014CO 32 (May 19, 2014)

“When sidewalks are not available, pedestrians are forced to share the street with motorists, access to public transportation is restricted, and children might not have safe play areas.” – US DOT.  Here, a child slipped on a puddle in a walkway running between a public school and its playground. Examining the CGIA, the Court rejected the argument that the “icy walkway waiver” was mutually exclusive of the “recreation waiver.” Rather, each waiver provides a potential avenue for waiver of tort liability, any one of which might suffice. Next it held that, unlike a playground or a parking lot, the walkway is not a “public facility” because: 1) it lacked an intrinsic recreational connection with the playground; 2) it did not broadly promote the purpose of the playground; and 3) excluding walkways like this one was consistent with the legislature’s intent. The school was immune from suit.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SC543.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9360&courtid=2

 

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Filed under Government, Personal Injury, Torts

St. Vrain Valley School District RE-1J and Cathy O’Donnell v. A.R.L. a minor; Randy Loveland; and Mary Nicole Loveland, 2014CO33 (May 19, 2014)

A playground through a lawyers eye: “Although the individual pieces of equipment each promote specific play activities (e.g., swinging or playing in the sand), they nevertheless collectively promote the common purpose of play and together make a playground a ‘facility’ by virtue of the strong relationship between the individual components.” – Opinion. In this case, applying and expanding on the analysis set forth in Daniel v. Colorado Springs, the Court concluded that a public school playground and its collection of equipment is a “public facility” “located in” a “recreation area.” The case focused on what a “public facility” is: 1) relatively permanent or affixed to land; 2) man-made; 3) accessible to the public; and 4) maintained by a public entity for a common public purpose. The zip line that injured the plaintiff was merely a “dangerous condition,” not itself a “facility.”

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SC631.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9361&courtid=2

 

 

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Filed under Government, Personal Injury, Torts

Taylor and Alexa Lobato, et. al. and S. Ortega and B. Ortega, et. al. , v. The State of Colorado; Colorado State Board of Education; Robert K. Hammond, as Commissioner of Education; and John Hickenlooper, as Governor, 2013CO30 (May 28, 2013)

Catch 22: “A situation in which a desired outcome … is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical … conditions.” Amer. Heritage Dictionary. Plaintiffs sought to remedy inherent disparities in an educational system uniformly inequitable: the wealthiest district can raise $219,000 per pupil and the poorest only $1,100. However, the standard is “thorough and uniform.” The Court held this means complete, comprehensive, and consistent, not equal. Also, the Constitution requires Local Control, so districts must control locally-raised education funds without the state mandating how such funds are used. The system is constitutional because it meets these standards. The dissents disagreed, finding the system’s disparities are not rationally related to the standards; they would also require the legislature to equitably fund its educational mandates.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2012/12SA25.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8959&courtid=2

For a link to all of the briefs filed in this case, click HERE.
(The CLR does not endorse or reject the views of “Children’s Voices” whose website is linked here).

Prior Opinions
Note: justiciable means the ability of a court to issue an opinion on the substantive questions presented.

Court of Appeals No. 06CA0733 , issued January 24, 2008

Holding: “We conclude that as political subdivisions, the school districts lack standing, and that the parents’ challenge to the adequacy of school financing is a nonjusticiable political question.”

Supreme Court No. 08SC185, October 19, 2009

Holding: “We reverse the court of appeals’ holdings that the plaintiff school districts lack standing to sue the state and that the plaintiffs have alleged a nonjusticiable claim.”

Trial Court Opinion upon remand from the Supreme Court, December 9, 2011.

Holding: “The Court concludes that the Colorado public school finance system is not rationally related to the mandate to establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools. On the contrary, the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded. This results in the denial of the rights of the Individuals Plaintiffs guaranteed by Article IX, section 2 of the Colorado constitution and the rights and powers of the School Districts pursuant to Article IX, sections 2 and 15.”

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government, Interlocutory Review

Taxpayers for Public Education and Cindra Barnard, et. al. v. Douglas County School District; Douglas County Board of Education; Colorado State Board of Education; and Colorado Department of Education, and Florence and Derrick Doyel, et. al. Intervenors, 2012COA20 (February 28, 2013)

Money merely represents value; but it has come to symbolize so much more. Here, the Douglas County Public School District created a voucher system that gives taxpayer money to private and/or religious schools. The trial court held it was unconstitutional. The court of appeals reversed based on 4 conclusions: 1) courts may not inquire into the extent of religious instruction, 2) religious institutions are not directly benefited, 3) parents directed the funds, and 4) the system gave parents neutral funding choices that maintained the free educational system. The court also held Plaintiffs lacked standing to enforce a statute. It avoided deciding whether Colorado’s constitutional religion provisions were coextensive with the First Amendment. The dissent concluded the system was a pipeline of public money to religious schools, thus violating Colorado’s Constitution.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Opinion/2012/11CA1856-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8846&courtid=1

CERTIORARI GRANTED

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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government