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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lobato trial: state funding unconstitutional

Press Release

Lobato Legal Team Will Hold News Conference Sat., Dec. 10 in Colorado Springs; State’s School Funding System Declared Unconstitutional by Denver Judge Today

Key plaintiffs and the legal team behind Lobato v. State of Colorado will hold a news conference Saturday, Dec. 10 in Colorado Springs.

The news conference will begin at 10 a.m. at Colorado Springs School District 11 offices, 1115 N. El Paso St.

Kathy Gebhardt, one of the lead attorneys on Lobato v. State of Colorado, along with Taylor and Anthony Lobato are among the speakers. Taylor was a student in Center School District 26JT; Anthony is her father.

In her ruling today, Denver District Judge Sheila Rapport ruled 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.”

Background: In 2005, a group known as Children’s Voices filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s funding system for public schools as unconstitutional. The lawsuit asserted that Colorado’s school finance system has fallen increasingly behind the level necessary to ensure that all children receive a quality education and that there is no rational connection between the state’s school funding system and what the state is asking schools to accomplish. It also asserted that by failing to fully provide the adequate resources needed to run schools, the state is violating the “local control of instruction” clause of the Colorado Constitution. In October 2009, the Colorado Supreme ruled that the public school finance system must be reviewed by the courts to assure that it meets the constitutional requirement of a “thorough and uniform” system of public education. The trial began on Monday, Aug. 1 in Denver District Court before Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport and ran for five weeks.

In 2008-9 (before the recession), Colorado spent $1,809 less per pupil than the national average, and K-12 spending on school finance is currently an estimated $774 million below the minimal increase required by Amendment 23.  Colorado ranks at or near the bottom of states when it comes to funding special education and school children are attending schools that are crumbling and unsafe. A recent independent statewide survey uncovered a $17.9 billion backlog in school capital needs.

The lawsuit represented specific parents, students and 21 specific school districts. The majority of the state’s 178 school districts endorsed Lobato. The lawsuit was filed by Children’s Voices, a non-profit law firm dedicated to achieving equal access to a high quality public education for all school-age children in Colorado. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) entered the case as plaintiff interveners on behalf of parents in four districts. Defendants include Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado State Board of Education and Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond. A variety of prominent Denver law firms donated thousands of hours to the case.

More info: http://lobatocase.org;


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