Since the Charter Schools Act passed back in 1993, many people don't know much about the origins of charter schools in Colorado. The Act was carried by then-State Senator Bill Owens (R)and Rep. Peggy Kerns (D). There was an attempt to get a law passed the previous year that was unsuccessful. Minnesota was the first, and only, state to pass a charter law in 1992.
A lot of grassroots parents showed up at the Capitol to support the Charter Schools Act, SB 93-183. The Act was also supported by the Colorado Children's Campaign, specifically Barbara O'Brien (our current Lt. Gov). A man named Dave D'Evelyn, a policy analyst for the CO Dept of Education was a key player in the process.
When I was working in the Senate in the late 1990's I was fortunate enough to get former State Senator Bob Schaffer's file on SB 93-183. Included in the file are numerous position statements, both pro and con, for the Charter Schools Act. The file includes a memo, dated April 1, 1993, from Dave D'Evelyn to Owens, Kerns, Bill Porter and Barbara O'Brien. Additionally, Schaffer's own handwritten notes on the bill provide insight into the debate on different provisions. For example, originally it was proposed that 120 days would be a good timeframe for newly-approved charters and their school districts to negotiate a contract. Of course, that ultimately was decreased to 75 days and in 2004 when the Charter School Institute Act was passed, it was 60 days for the Institute to settle a contract.
Dave D'Evelyn, while a valiant advocate for charter schools, never got to see them implemented. Shortly after the 1993 legislative session ended, he was killed in a small plane crash in the southwestern part of Colorado. Dave was on CDE business at the time of the crash.
At the end of 1993, a group of parents filed a charter/option application for a liberal arts high school in Jefferson County. It was eventually approved as an option school and named after Dave D'Evelyn. Dave would be proud of the school that carries his name as it routinely ranks at the top of all Colorado high schools academically.