June 20, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: School District Did Not Give Thing of Value to Any One Candidate

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Keim v. Douglas County Public Schools on Monday, July 3, 2017.

Campaign Finance—Fair Campaign Practices Act—Campaign Contributions.

The supreme court reviewed the court of appeals’ conclusion that a school district did not make a prohibited campaign contribution in a school board election campaign under C.R.S. § 1-45-117(1)(a) of Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act and article XXVIII, § 2(5)(a)(IV) of the Colorado Constitution. Under § 2(5)(a)(IV), a “contribution” requires that (1) something of value (2) be given to a candidate, directly or indirectly, (3) for the purpose of promoting the candidate’s nomination, retention, recall, or election. Here, the school district commissioned and paid for a report supportive of the district’s reform agenda using public funds. However, because the school district did not give something, directly or indirectly, to any candidate when it publicly disseminated an email containing a link to the report, the court concluded that the school district did not make a prohibited contribution under these Colorado campaign finance provisions. The court therefore affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: School Board Not Precluded from Approving “New” Innovation School Plan

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in City & County of Denver School District No. 1 v. Denver Classroom Teachers Association on Monday, April 24, 2017.

Innovation Schools Act—Innovation Plans—Public Schools.

The Colorado Supreme Court considered whether the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, C.R.S. §§ 22-32.5-101 to -111, precludes a local school board from approving an innovation plan submitted by a “new” innovation school, that is, a school that has not previously opened as a non-innovation school and has yet to hire teachers. The court concluded that the Innovation Schools Act does not preclude approval of innovation plans from such “new” innovation schools. Accordingly, the judgment of the court of appeals was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Election Statutes Contain Procedure for Challenging Unqualified Elected Official

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Carson v. Reiner on Monday, May 23, 2016.

Election Law—School District Director Elections—Candidate Unqualified but Certified to Ballot.

Carson and two other electors of Mesa County Valley School District 51 made application to the Supreme Court, pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-1-113(3), for review of the district court’s order denying their requested relief concerning a school board election. A week before the scheduled election, Carson filed a verified petition, pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-1-113(1), naming as respondents the county clerk and recorder and the school board’s designated election official, and seeking a declaration that one of the candidates for the school board was unqualified and had been wrongfully certified to the ballot. In addition, the petition sought an order forbidding the clerk and recorder from counting votes for that candidate. The district court denied the requested relief on the grounds that C.R.S. § 1-1-113(1) did not authorize it to adjudicate the eligibility of a candidate at that stage of the election process. The Court held that C.R.S. § 1-1-113(1) does not permit a challenge to an election official’s certification of a candidate to the ballot, solely on the basis of the certified candidate’s qualification, once the period permitted by C.R.S. § 1-4-501(3) for challenging the qualification of the candidate directly has expired. Therefore, the ruling of the district court was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Entry of Guilty Plea Equates to “Found Guilty” for School Board Vacancy Statute

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Esquibel v. Board of Education Centennial School District on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

Augustine Esquibel was a director on the Centennial School Board. In 2011, while he was on the board, he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and felony cocaine possession and received a deferred judgment. Approximately two weeks after he entered his plea, the Board declared his seat vacant based on a director vacancy statute that provides a seat shall be deemed vacant if a director is found guilty of a felony. Esquibel sought a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the Board’s declaration, arguing that he would only be “found guilty of a felony” if he failed to comply with his plea agreement. The district court disagreed and ruled Esquibel was not likely to prevail on the merits. On appeal, the court of appeals analyzed the statutory language and determined that Esquibel was “found guilty” when he entered his guilty plea.

The court of appeals affirmed the district court. Judge Hawthorne dissented; he would have excluded a plea of guilty from the meaning of “found guilty of a felony” in the director vacancy statute.