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Center residents to testify in Lobato vs. State of Colorado

Posted: Friday, Jul 22nd, 2011

DENVER — The Lobato v. Colorado school funding adequacy lawsuit is slated to be heard in Denver District Court beginning Monday Aug. 1.

The court has set aside five weeks for arguments in the case.

The lawsuit stems from parents and school districts all over the state of Colorado contending that the provisions of the Education Clause of the Colorado State Constitution are not being fulfilled by the Colorado State Legislature. The plaintiff’s main contention is that a “thorough and uniform” education, in light of state education law requirements, can not be achieved under the current system of educational finance.

The case is being defended by the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office.

The lawsuit takes its name from Center area resident Anthony Lobato, his wife Denise, and their daughters Taylor and Alexa, who are listed as the first plaintiffs in the case. Dozens of other parents from around the state, all 14 school districts in the San Luis Valley, and even larger districts such as Jefferson County have signed on in support of the suit as well.

Lobato v Colroado’s day in court will come nearly five years after it was originally filed. Appeals processes have already taken the case through the Colorado Supreme Court just to gain permission to be heard in District Court.

Several area citizens will be called upon to testify during the trial, including Center High School graduate Taylor Lobato representing students throughout the state, Center Schools Board Secretary Miguel Cendejas representing parents, and Center Schools Superintendent and Colorado Association of School Executives President-Elect George Welsh, who will be called upon by the plaintiffs as an expert witness on rural school districts.

The Denver District Court has already ruled on several motions by both the Plaintiffs and Defendants. Recent rulings on the motions in question have established, among other things, that:

• the Plaintiffs do not have to prove that the State is at fault “beyond a reasonable doubt,” • that non-education appropriations and TABOR limitations can not be part of the State’s defense,

• the Education Clause of the State Constitution “guarantees a qualitative educational outcome,”

• the Educational Clause does not have to be “harmonized” with other constitutional provisions,

• TABOR can not be construed to constrain education appropriations,

• and that the court, in ultimately ruling on the case, can require the General assembly to rectify the problem in “an appropriate period of time.”

A final ruling on the case is not expected until sometime in late fall.

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