Commissioners stand by funding
In a recent letter to the editor, Mr. Robert Clarke expresses concern regarding the legality of spending certain county funds for school safety, but his underlying erroneous proposition must be addressed. We would like to start by expressing our gratitude for the communitywide support for our efforts to help keep kids safe, specifically the county’s commitment of $10 million for school safety and mental health support for students following the STEM School shooting in May 2019.
Please understand that the legal guidance regarding such spending is clear. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer,137 S.Ct. 2012 (2017) that public money offered for a generally available benefit, in this case to improve student safety, cannot legally be denied to any entity solely because of its religious affiliation. Denying school safety funding to private religious schools is what Mr. Clarke and the cited Colorado Constitutional provision advocate.
The Trinity Lutheran decision was applied to a nearly identical school funding issue and the U.S. Supreme Court instructed Colorado courts to follow the Trinity Lutheran decision, vacating a contrary Colorado decision. While Douglas County has no immediate plans to provide additional funding for school safety, it is important to clarify that Douglas County has not violated any law by providing funding to improve school safety and mental health for students, for any school. The Douglas County Commissioners stand proudly behind their funding decisions to help improve school safety and student mental health for public and private schools alike.
The Board of Douglas County Commissioners:
Abe Laydon, Roger Partridge, Lora Thomas
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