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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Choose dismisses common preschool lawsuit introduced by Colorado districts

Inside Colorado’s free preschool initiative

A Denver district courtroom decide on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit introduced by a number of Colorado college districts over the state’s common preschool program, ruling that the plaintiffs don’t have authorized grounds to sue.

In his 20-page ruling, Choose Jon J. Olafson concluded that the six college districts, two schooling teams, a cooperative schooling providers board, and two households that sued the state final yr had not suffered any “harm” coated by state or federal regulation. The districts, teams, and households had argued that the common preschool program administration was harming college students with disabilities, along with different claims.

The choice is a win for the state and for Gov. Jared Polis, who spearheaded the favored free preschool program, which launched final summer time after a rushed and rocky planning course of. It comes a month after a partial victory for the state in one other common preschool lawsuit — one introduced by Catholic preschools who don’t need to enroll kids from LGBTQ households. (The Catholic preschools plan to attraction.)

State officers had no touch upon Olafson’s ruling Wednesday night.

Melissa Gibson, deputy govt director of the Colorado Affiliation of College Executives, one of many plaintiffs within the case, stated in a press release Wednesday, “We’re disillusioned by the courtroom’s resolution, however we’ll proceed our deal with doing all the pieces attainable to advocate for decision to the problems impacting college students and households within the [universal preschool] system.”

She stated submitting the lawsuit was “a final resort,” and that the plaintiffs will proceed to work with the state to push for options and transparency.

Along with Gibson’s group, the plaintiffs embrace the Consortium of Administrators of Particular Schooling, Centennial Board of Cooperative Academic Companies, two households, and the six college districts: Brighton-based 27J, Cherry Creek, Harrison, Mapleton, Platte Valley, and Westminster.

They filed the lawsuit in opposition to the state final summer time, claiming its administration of the common preschool program was harming kids with disabilities and breaking monetary guarantees to households and college districts. In response, the state requested the courtroom to dismiss the go well with. Olafson held a listening to on that movement on the finish of April.

Olafson acknowledged that the varsity district plaintiffs had confronted “complications” in adapting to the brand new common preschool system, however stated “these rising pains are usually not legally protected harm.”

He additionally stated that a few of the plaintiffs’ issues could be higher addressed by legislative or administrative means, slightly than by the courts.

Through the 2023-24 college yr, about 39,000 4-year-olds acquired tuition-free preschool by Colorado’s common preschool program — representing 62% of youngsters in that age group within the state. Enrollment is predicted to be even increased subsequent yr.

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, masking early childhood points and early literacy. Contact Ann at aschimke@chalkbeat.org.

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