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Quote of the Day - I asked Mom if I was a gifted child... she said they certainly wouldn't have paid for me. - Unknown
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Do Gifted Students Have A Disability? Should 'No Child Left Behind' Be 'No Child Gets Ahead'?

"The California Department of Education is not required to pay for college education of highly gifted 13-year-old student."  That quote is from today's slip opinion, right out of the Los Angeles Daily Journal Daily Appellate Report.

Go ahead.  Reread that first sentence and see if it sinks in. 

Now before you get up in arms, consider these laws:  California has a Compulsory Education Law.  Children under 16 must attend "common schools" (K-12) on a full-time basis, and the state must provide that education for free.  The Federal No Child Left Behind Act "ensures that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments."  Makes sense.

Most of the time.

One more law for your consideration:  California Education Code section 56000 provides that "all individuals with exceptional needs have a right to participate in free appropriate public education and special educational instruction and services for these persons are needed to ensure the right to an appropriate educational opportunity to meet their unique needs."  That makes sense, too. 

Most of the time.

As you proceed with your analysis, consider these facts:  Plaintiff Levi Clancy started attending Santa Monica Community College when he was seven.  Normally at that age, he'd be in second grade.  Levi then passed the California High School GED at nine (how he didn't manage to do that before he went to Community College isn't explained in the Court's opinion).  Then, he started attending the University of California at Los Angeles at age 13, right about the time you and I were in eighth grade. 

Wow.  That's a gifted kid.

Levi's Mom, Leila, is a single wage earner and can't afford the tuition at UCLA.  What's a Mother to do?  Sue.

She did, but she lost.  The Court of Appeal ruled that California is not required to provide Levi with a free education in college.  The Court opined that the laws do not require the schools to teach each individual to his or her skill level if that individual is gifted.  They likewise said the No Child Left Behind Act does not require schools to offer individualized education.  Finally, they declared that a gifted student does not qualify for the "disability" required under section 56000. 

This case is likely to be appealed on the issue of whether being gifted qualifies as a disability.  What's your opinion?

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 at 18:29 Comments Closed (1) |
 
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