Contact: Richard D. Ackerman, President, Pro-Family Law Center, 951-308-6454
WASHINGTON, May 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- Lawyers for an extremely gifted child filed a petition for review with the United States Supreme Court today. If review is granted, hundreds of thousands of extremely gifted children may be able to receive school vouchers to fund their special learning needs. The petition, filed by the Pro-Family Law Center seeks to overturn decisions by the California courts concluding that a voucher for the education of an extremely gifted child is not permitted by federal law since these children supposedly do not have "special needs."
The California Department of Education refuses to provide a funding voucher for a 14-year-old child now attending UCLA, even though the facts of the case suggest that this is truly the only suitable education for a highly gifted child such as the petitioner.
Independent healthcare reports filed with the California courts make it clear that life has been very difficult for the child and his mother because of his highly specialized academic and social needs. These findings are also consistent with the findings in a 1990 report published by Professor Ellen Winner in a joint project on gifted children by Boston College and Harvard University. Other studies have shown that gifted children can become bored with school and turn to drugs, self abuse, and other problems as a result of not being able to fit in with the standardized academic formula forced on all children.
Levi Clancy, the child-petitioner, began college at age 7. He passed the California High School Proficiency Exam at age 9, and began attending UCLA in January 2004. His mother, single and working in the education field, is not able to continue paying full cost for a suitable education for her child. While other California children, of the plaintiff's same age, are being provided a state-funded education, the CDE refuses to extend the same to this child and other gifted children.
According to Clancy's attorneys, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the California Constitution and related federal judicial decisions require that an education, "suitable" to the specific needs of each child, be provided by the states. Any failure to provide a suitable education is alleged to be a violation of the federal Equal Protection Clause. Moreover, it is also claimed that the truancy laws require Levy to be in attendance at a publicly funded school until he is 16 years of age, regardless of his highly gifted status.
PFLC attorney Richard D. Ackerman states, "The one size fits all approach to education is failing thousands of children. We are going to have to realize that it is immoral to require a highly gifted child to maintain compulsory attendance in a failing system that doesn't even work for average students. At a bare minimum, the CDE ought to be required to fund Levi's education to the same monetary level as provided on a per-student basis for every other child in the public schools, which happens to be between six and seven thousand dollars a head. While, the government already has the tax money to educate these children, they just don't care about these kids."
According to Ackerman, "This case has the potential to overhaul a failing educational system, and may open the doors to a truly suitable education for each child within the public school system. We can't talk about the "No Child Left Behind" concept while we deprive America's gifted children of the same opportunity given to other kids with specialized educational needs." More information on this case can be found at www.highlygifted.org.