August 16, 2011
A Denver District Court issued a permanent injunction, on August 12, 2011
in Larue v. Douglas County Sch. Dist., which prevents the school district's
voucher program from proceeding in the 2011-12 school year. Based primarily
on the religious nature of the schooling to be paid for by public education
funds, the court ruled that the voucher program violates various provisions
of the Colorado Constitution and two Colorado statutes.
The Larue case is similar to "Blaine Amendment" cases in Arizona and
Florida, where publicly funded vouchers for religious schools violated those
states' constitutions. Colorado's Article IX, Section 7 prohibits any government
entity, including school districts, from using public funds "to help support...any
school, ...controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever
... ." After a hearing, the court ruled that the Douglas County voucher program
would primarily fund religious schools and further their clearly stated "missions
of religious indoctrination."
Also, Article IX, Section 8 requires that "No religious test or qualification
shall ever be required of any person as a condition of admission into any public
institution of the state, either as a teacher or student;" and "no teacher
or student of any such institution shall ever be required to attend ... any
religious service whatsoever." Most of the schools that the school district's
voucher program planned to fund would be a violation of both of these provisions.
Plaintiff parents and taxpayers in the Douglas County School District requested
the injunction, and the court held a three-day hearing in early August.