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Deadline for state of Colorado to respond to universal preschool lawsuit extended

Deadline for state to respond to Universal Pre-K lawsuit extended
Deadline for state to respond to Universal Pre-K lawsuit extended 02:58

Lessons around Colorado's universal preschool rollout have moved from the classroom to the capitol.

As enrollment wraps for many this year, leaders within the Colorado Department of Early Childhood recently updated the state's Joint Budget Committee on the launch.

Dr. Lisa Roy, CDEC Director, painted a picture of progress with change expected to come next year.

"We have been sitting down with districts and the (Colorado Department of Education) for many months and many changes made have been based on input," she told CBS Colorado after going before lawmakers.

Those statements come after months of confusion from families and providers.

Bret Miles is the Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives, also known as CASE, who sued the Gov. Jared Polis in response to their concerns.

"We heard what public and private providers have been saying for so many months, you know, and we heard it again in the Joint Budget Committee meeting. We heard that the CDEC is working on the major problems with UPK, while we appreciate the recognition that these are significant issues, and they are working on it. We're still deeply concerned that we're not seeing any meaningful progress," Miles said.

As that legal fight began, Polis praised the program's success and increased enrollment numbers, making stops at different preschools across Colorado.

But internal emails between UPK leaders, his office and the tech company who built the platform -- BridgeCare -- show communication struggles behind the scenes, with emails stressing the need to keep public messaging positive and containing questions about lack of data around the program. They also show a near constant stream of concerns being fielded but few answers being provided.

"We're not surprised because our districts are talking with these people, and they know that they're on the phone on the other end with some good people that really want to do this. But as each new question comes in, we're having to search for an answer, and we still don't have one solid place where you can always go to and look up all the rules and get answers," Miles said.

While the state has yet to file an official response to the issues raised by CASE in the lawsuit, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood recognized there's work to be done.

"For Year 2, look at all things learned Year 1 to make sure everything we do is of ease families and providers in next delivery system," Roy said.

The new deadline for the state to respond is Oct. 12.

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