Does state law require public schools to be "open to all"?
Yes—statutory, not constitutional
Does state law mandate "equality of educational opportunity"?
Do the courts recognize education as a fundamental right?
Art. 9 § 2.The general assembly shall, as soon as practicable, provide for the establishment and maintenance of a thorough and uniform system of free public schools throughout the state, wherein all residents of the state, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, may be educated gratuitously. One or more public schools shall be maintained in each school district with- in the state, at least three months in each year; any school district failing to have such school shall not be entitled to receive any portion of the school fund for that year.
In Colorado, attendance zones could be vulnerable to a challenge based on the statutory promise in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-102 that “every public school shall be open for the admission of all children … residing in that district.”
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-36-101 requires every school district to establish policies and procedures for students to apply to “particular programs or schools within such school district.” Schools may give enrollment preference to transfer students who are struggling academically and from schools subject to restructuring or turnaround plans. Schools may deny permission to transfer when programs or schools lack the capacity.
Same law cited above applies to cross-district transfers.
State Law Establishing Attendance Zones
The open enrollment law implicitly allows attendance zones by stating that students have access to any school within their district, but application can be denied if the school or program is full with students from the preferred enrollment area.
State Law Criminalizing Use Of Incorrect Address
Charter School Admissions
Charter schools appear to be forbidden from discriminating against students based on their residential address within the school district. Each charter school must be open to every child living in the district where the school is located, and enrollment decisions must be made in a “nondiscriminatory manner.” Colo. Rev. Stat. 22-30.5-104