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In a case that could pave the way for school vouchers, the California Department of Education is opposing a 14-year-old prodigy’s bid to receive government funds so he can continue his schooling at a state university — the only suitable education, his mother argues.
The education department confirms that the lawsuit, brought by the mother of University of California at Los Angeles student Levi Clancy, hinges on the constitutionality of vouchers, making it the first case of its kind in the nation, says Clancy’s attorney Richard Ackerman of the Pro-Family Law Center, which filed papers in court yesterday.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Clancy, who was reading high school-level books in two languages at age 5, enrolled at Santa Monica Community College at 7 and, earlier this year, entered UCLA.
His mother Leila Levi, a single parent, says she cannot afford the more than $9,000 it costs to attend UCLA each year and filed a lawsuit in February in Sacramento Superior Court. She argues her son is of mandatory attendance age, and the California constitution requires he be provided a free education.
Having the state pay for his tuition at UCLA is the only possible remedy, insists Ackerman, who notes that if the boy is not in school, he is regarded as truant.
“You can’t send him back to public school, because they don’t have the means to educate a kid this gifted,” he told WND. “The only way his intellectual needs can be met is if he goes to a high-level, four-year college.”
In recently filed papers, the California Department of Education acknowledged Clancy’s mother is “attempting to obtain the functional equivalent of a voucher for her son’s university-level education,” but insists the agency does not owe a “constitutional duty” to the child in this case.
Ackerman argues any failure to provide a suitable education is a violation of the federal Equal Protection Clause.
“The one size fits all approach to education is failing the plaintiff in this case,” Ackerman says. “At some point in time, we are going to have to realize that it is intellectual torture to require a highly gifted child to maintain compulsory attendance in a failing system that doesn’t even work for average students.”
Ackerman asserts that 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.”
Regardless of who wins the Sacramento case, it likely will end up being appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ackerman believes.
“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,” he said.