Montessori files to have case heard in Denver

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— Denver District Court is the appropriate and legal venue for a lawsuit filed against the Steamboat Springs School District, according to a brief filed Tuesday by Steamboat Springs Montessori.

The brief is a response to the school district's July 28 change-of-venue motion filed in Denver. In that motion, the district argued the case involving it and Steamboat Springs Montessori should be heard in Routt County, where the Steamboat School Board holds its meetings and makes its decisions and where it would be more convenient for interested parties to the suit.

The case is slotted for Denver District Court because that is where Steamboat Springs Montessori chose to file the lawsuit.

Tuesday's response from the Montessori group, filed by its attorney Bill Bethke, called some of the district's arguments for a Routt County venue artful and misleading.

"The representations that venue will inevitably be more convenient in Routt County are artful," Bethke wrote in the brief.

Bethke also suggested other motives behind the district's change of venue request.

"Change of venue may serve a district tactic of increasing costs to and wearing down this grassroots (Montessori) group," the brief states. "In no other sense is it 'convenient.'"

Both sides cite Rule 98(b)(2) of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure in their respective arguments.

But while the school district argues venue is established by the location where the alleged failure to act occurred, in this case the School Board's unwillingness to accept a State Board order, Steamboat Springs Montessori says venue is established in Denver because the case fundamentally involves a State Board order. The State Board is located in Denver.

According to attorneys on both sides, the school district has 10 days to respond to Tuesday's brief, but Judge Shelley Gilman can make her venue ruling at any time.

Steamboat Springs Montessori is suing the school district and the School Board over its refusal to approve its charter school application. The State Board ordered the district in April to approve the application. The School Board says the order is an unfunded mandate.

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