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CO Christian school asks court to allow it to participate in universal preschool program without violating its beliefs

ADF attorneys available for media interviews Thursday following hearing
Darren Patterson Christian Academy

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Darren Patterson Christian Academy v. Roy

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. MDT, Thursday, Oct. 5

WHERE:  U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, 901 19th St., Denver. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Jacqueline Ribeiro at (202) 961-9396.

DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Darren Patterson Christian Academy will be available for media interviews Thursday following oral arguments in federal district court in their lawsuit against Colorado state officials for demanding the school surrender its religious beliefs and exercise to participate in the state’s universal preschool program. The school filed a federal lawsuit in June.

“The government cannot force religious schools to abandon their beliefs and exercise to participate in a public benefit program that everyone else can access,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus, who will be arguing in court on behalf of Darren Patterson Christian Academy. “The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed this constitutional principle multiple times, most recently last year. Darren Patterson Christian Academy has been serving Chaffee County families for over 40 years. Yet Colorado officials are forcing it to abandon its religious beliefs—the reason why parents choose to send their kids to the school—to receive critical state funding. This is a violation of the school’s First Amendment rights.”

The school, located in Buena Vista, applied for and obtained approval to participate in Colorado’s new universal preschool program, which guarantees every four-year-old in the state at least 15 hours per week of state-funded preschool services per school year. The school welcomes all families and children—accepting any child who meets its enrollment criteria regardless of the religious beliefs or background of the child or the child’s family.

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood, however, is mandating that, for the school to participate in the program and receive critical state funding, it must hire employees who do not share its faith and alter internal rules and policies that are based on the school’s religious beliefs about sexuality and gender—including those that relate to restroom usage, pronouns, dress codes, and student housing during expeditions and field trips. To protect its ability to participate in the program without compromising its religious beliefs, the school requested an exemption in May of this year, but the Department denied that request.

The lawsuit, Darren Patterson Christian Academy v. Roy, notes that many families choose to enroll their children at the school because they share the school’s Christian faith and values. Unless the school capitulates and agrees to violate its religious beliefs and exercise, it will lose valuable tuition reimbursement from the state and potentially students and families.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Jeremiah Galus
Jeremiah Galus
Senior Counsel
Jeremiah Galus serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Christian Ministries.