Court Cases

Fighting for Education in the Courts

The Association stands ready to bring lawsuits forward in the Colorado court system when we believe the State or local school districts fail in their obligation to follow applicable law and adopt policies that undermine the rights of school employees and the education of children.

Recent examples include:

  • The Masters lawsuit brought by CEA and DCTA to challenge the ‘mutual consent’ provision of Colorado’s educator effectiveness evaluation law. Named after one of six named teacher plaintiffs, the lawsuit was filed in Jan. 2014 as a result of Denver Public Schools’ misuse of the law to unfairly and systematically remove highly experienced and effective teachers from its classrooms. Such misuse has deprived our students of good teachers and robbed less experienced teachers of professional support and mentorship. The named plaintiffs in this lawsuit represent thousands of these experienced teachers who had already proven their effectiveness, yet who were still displaced from their teaching assignments to the detriment of their students’ learning and growth. In the latest development, the Colorado Court of Appeals in Nov. 2015 chose to ‘reverse and remand’ an earlier decision Denver District Court made against the plaintiff, recognizing that certain provisions in the law were used to remove teachers from the classroom without cause and without a hearing.
  • The Lobato lawsuit that pitted school funding advocates and students and parents from San Luis Valley and other school districts against the State of Colorado during a five-week trial in Aug. 2011 over public school funding. CEA was one of the main backers of the lawsuit, named after a family in Center, Colo. that claimed the state didn’t meet its mandate to provide a “thorough and uniform” system of public education. Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled in favor of students, parents, and school districts in Dec. 2011, finding that Colorado’s entire system for funding public schools is “irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded” and therefore violates the Colorado Constitution. In her 183-page decision, Judge Rappaport cited a $2-$4 billion deficit in state education funding that left districts unable to provide the programs, services, instructional materials, equipment, technology, and facilities necessary to ensure that all children get an education that meets the mandates of the state’s constitution and standards-based education system. CEA members were incredibly disappointed when the State Supreme Court overturned the ruling in July 2013, though the Court did not dispute that public education in Colorado would benefit from additional funding.
  • The Innovation Schools lawsuit, brought by CEA and DCTA to reinforce the right of teachers, parents and administrators to have a voice in transformational work being carried out in their school. In June 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals determined Denver Public Schools ignored the law requiring a district to obtain a majority approval of teachers and other stakeholders before their school can be granted innovation status.