CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – There was a victory Thursday for a controversial school voucher program after an appeals court overturned a ruling that blocked the program in Douglas County.
Max Anderson, one of the students at the center of the fight, attends Woodlands Academy in Castle Rock. His parents chose the school because it is small. Now the Colorado Court of Appeals says the parents should have that choice.
“My favorite subject is science because for some reason that really clicks for me,” Anderson said.
The concept behind Douglas County’s Choice Scholarship Program really clicked for Anderson’s parents. He was one of 500 students awarded a voucher to attend a private partner school. When a Denver district judge issued an injunction weeks before Anderson started third grade, the program was placed on hold, and Anderson’s parents were in a bind.
“All of the plans had been made,” Anderson’s father said. “We felt like we had no option to go back.”
So the Andersons diverted their retirement savings to pay for tuition and became defendants in the appeal. Scott Levin of the Anti-Defamation League called Thursday’s ruling upsetting and a violation of separation of church and state.
“This isn’t a choice to go to a better school; they have a great school system. It’s a choice to be able to go a private school, and in particular, the overwhelming majority of the schools in the system are religious-based programs,” Levin said. “This is not acceptable.”
Levin says it’s not acceptable because the vouchers are funded with taxpayer dollars.
“That’s not the way we’ve ever used public dollars in the United States,” Levin said.
Anderson’s parents said they hope their victory signals a change in that thinking.
“I don’t see why you would want to live in any situation in your life without choices,” Anderson’s mother said.
The plaintiffs in the case have 42 days to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. There’s also a chance the case could make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.