Anti-Voucher Candidates Prevail in Colorado School Board Race

POLITICO Pro reports, candidates opposed to private school tuition vouchers handily swept into office on Tuesday in the high-profile school board race in Douglas County, Colo.

The wins likely means a shift in the board that will lead to an end to its legal fight to use public funds to pay for private school. The case has been watched closely around the country because of the possible Supreme Court implications.

The winners were Anthony Graziano, Chris Schor, Kevin Leung and Krista Holtzmann. Each received nearly 60 percent of the vote in unofficial returns. They had argued that voucher programs erode public schools.

Both teachers’ unions, which oppose voucher programs, and groups such as the Koch network’s Americans for Prosperity, which backs private school choice options using public dollars, had poured money into the race.

The legal dispute stems from 2011 when the board approved the use of vouchers that backers said expanded educational opportunities for students.

In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court found it was in conflict with the state’s bar on tax dollars going to religious groups. But in July, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling and ordered the state Supreme Court to reconsider in light of the high court’s ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc. v. Comer.

In that case, the high court held that Missouri officials wrongly denied the church a grant to reimburse the cost of repaving its preschool playground “simply because of what it is — a church.”

“This is a great election result for all students in Colorado, preventing the spread of harmful voucher schemes,” Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman said in a statement.

By Kimberly Hefling