On December 9, 2011, Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled in favor of school districts, parents, and students, finding that Colorado’s entire system for funding public schools is “irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded,” and therefore violates the Colorado Constitution.

In a 183-page decision, following a five-week trial in August 2011, the Court found that Colorado’s public schools are so underfunded that children throughout the State are being denied an adequate education, in violation of the state constitutional mandate of a “thorough and uniform” system of public education.  The Court recognized that, due to significant underfunding, schools districts across the State are unable to provide the educational programs, services, instructional materials, equipment, technology, and facilities necessary to assure all children an education that meets the mandates of the Constitution and the State’s standards-based education system.  The Court additionally found that school districts are being denied their constitutional right to exercise local control over instruction because of insufficient funding.

The Court ordered, after decades of severe underfunding of Colorado schools, that the State must design, fund, and implement a system of public school finance that enables all students in the State to graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for citizenship, post-secondary education, and participation in the workforce.  The injunction is stayed until the conclusion of the State’s appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Additional Resources on Trial Court Decision

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (Decision)
Key Findings in Lobato Trial Court Decision (Summary)
Press Coverage of Decision
Press Release on Decision