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Education ReEnvisioned BOCES v. Colorado Literacy and Learning Center.

2022 COA 128. No. 21CA0708. Boards of Cooperative Services Act of 1965—BOCES—Location of Facilities.

November 3, 2022

Plaintiff is a school district cooperative under the Boards of Cooperative Services Act of 1965 (the BOCES Act) (the cooperative). Defendant and third-party plaintiff Colorado Springs School District 11 (District 11) is not a member of the cooperative. The cooperative and third-party defendant Colorado Literacy and Learning Center (the Learning Center) entered into an agreement for the Learning Center to operate a contract school within the geographic boundaries of District 11, without obtaining permission from the District 11 school board. District 11 objected, and the cooperative filed a complaint for declaratory judgment that it could continue operating the contract school at its current location without District 11’s permission. District 11 counterclaimed and filed a third-party claim against the Learning Center, seeking an opposite declaratory judgment and an injunction against the contract school’s further operation within its boundaries. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court denied District 11’s motion for partial summary judgment and granted the cooperative’s and the Learning Center’s motions for summary judgment.

On appeal, District 11 challenged the denial of its summary judgment motion. The BOCES Act enables two or more school districts to cooperate in providing services authorized by law through the creation of boards of cooperative services (BOCES). But the statute’s plain language does not grant BOCES extraterritorial authority, so it cannot locate schools in nonmember school districts without those districts’ permission. Accordingly, the district court’s summary judgment order was based on a misapplication of the law.

The order was reversed. The case was remanded for entry of partial summary judgment in favor of District 11 and for the district court to determine whether injunctive relief is appropriate.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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