Frontier Institute Statement On Order Partially Halting Implementation Of HB 562

Frontier Institute Statement On Order Partially Halting Implementation Of HB 562


HELENA – Today, Frontier Institute issued the following statement in response to the order by District Judge Chris Abbott granting plaintiffs in Felchle v. Montana a preliminary injunction to partially halt implementation of HB 562, the Community Choice Schools Act (CCSA).

This order deprives Montana students of the opportunity for a quality public education that fits their unique learning needs,” said Kendall Cotton, President & CEO of Frontier Institute. “While this order is a temporary setback for Montana families who deserve to have their children access the same quality public education options available to families in 45 other states, we remain confident that the Community Choice Schools Act will ultimately be upheld by the court.”

“It‘s a relief Judge Abbott can see from the law that there is no harm to the plaintiffs by allowing the Community Choice School Commission to begin laying the groundwork for Choice Schools, filling in some of the unknowns for the court to assess as the case progresses, said Trish Schreiber, Senior Education Fellow at the Frontier Institute. Trish has been appointed to Chair the Community Choice School Commission.


Highlights of Judge Abbott’s Order:

  • The order temporarily halts implementation of Sections 5–16 of the CCSA and specifies that the newly created Community Choice School Commission may not “approve or deny applications for authorizers or choice schools while the preliminary injunction is in effect.”
  • The order does not block section 4 of House Bill 562, allowing the Community Choice School Commission to meet, hire staff, approve by-laws, develop procedures and otherwise fulfill its duties to lay the groundwork for choice schools.

Background on Montana’s CCSA:

  • The CCSA was passed and signed into law in 2023 with the express goal of providing Montana families with “additional educational opportunities.”

  • Prior to the passing of the CCSA, Montana was one of only 5 states without a law expressly authorizing the creation of public charter schools.

  • The CCSA empowers Montana communities to create innovative Choice Schools by establishing a governing charter that outlines the purpose, responsibilities, governance and accountable performance standards for the school.

  • Like all true public charter schools, Choice Schools are new student-centered public schools that are allowed greater flexibility to focus on specific types of learning needs while remaining free and open to all.

  • Choice Schools are expressly prohibited from operating for-profit or charging tuition.

  • Choice Schools are public schools under the general supervision of the Board of Public Education (BPE) and are mandated to deliver measurable academic results once approved.

  • Choice Schools must follow all federal laws including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX etc.

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Founded in 2020, Frontier Institute is a Helena, MT think tank dedicated to breaking down government barriers so all Montanans can thrive.

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