Colorado Opportunity Contract Program - Release: 12-9-2003
Colorado Parents Appeal Voucher Ruling, Ask Court to Continue Program During Appeal
District Court Injunction Threatens Timely Start to Opportunity Contract Program
WEB RELEASE: December 9, 2003
CONTACT: Lisa Knepper; John Kramer (703) 682-9320
Washington, D.C. –Today, a group of Colorado families seeking greater educational choice asked the Colorado Supreme Court for an expedited review of last week’s Denver District Court decision striking down the state’s Opportunity Contract program. The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading legal school choice advocate, represents the 12 families appealing the ruling.
"For many Colorado parents, Opportunity Contracts are the difference between hope and despair, success and failure," said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. IJ is working with the Colorado Attorney General to protect the Opportunity Contract program. "We hope the Colorado Supreme Court will quickly take up the case and allow the program to continue."
Denver District Judge Joseph E. Meyer III ruled Opportunity Contracts violate the "local control" provisions of the Colorado Constitution and ordered all implementation efforts to cease, halting entirely the work of the State and local school districts in bringing Opportunity Contracts to life in time for the 2004-05 school year.
In separate motions filed today, IJ and the Attorney General also asked Judge Meyer to stay that order and allow the State of Colorado, public school districts, private schools and parents to continue working on the program as the case is on appeal.
"It is critical that the work of implementation continue as the case is appealed," said Mellor. "Every additional day Colorado’s low-income schoolchildren spend in struggling public schools is a lost day they will never recover."
"Public schooling is failing my two daughters, and I am afraid of what stopping this program may mean for their future," said Colorado mother Angelia Teague, who has already met with private schools she is considering for her twin daughters. "All I want is the same right to choose good schools for my children that more affluent parents enjoy."