Horseshoeing School Draws State Scrutiny Over Educational Requirements

AMADOR COUNTY (CBS13) — For 26 years, students have cycled through at the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, pounding away at their education in hopes of landing a lucrative job as a professional horseshoer, also known as a ferrier.

"You can work part-time, full-time, one day a week, whatever you want to work," said the owner, Bob Smith.

Around 50 students come through this school each year for an eight-week program. It's the only one in the state.

But inspectors recently notified Smith that his school faces fines and closure because he was violating a state law that regulates post-secondary education.

"If you want to go to a vocational or trade school, you have to have a high school diploma, a GED, or take an ability to benefit test," he said. "I was so outraged by the state of California deciding which kid is a winner and which kid is a loser."

He believes those educational requirements are a barrier for many of his students.

"People with all kinds of learning disabilities, incarcerations — all kinds of things that occurred in their younger life or they never got a high-school diploma — and the state is saying you cannot invest in yourself. You can't spend your own money to improve your own life," he said.

Lawyers have now filed suit in federal court to invalidate the law saying trade schools have a constitutional right to teach.

"There's almost 400,000 kids a year that don't get high school diplomas in California. What do you do with them?" Smith said.

The law is designed to make sure students succeed. Educators say those who don't possess basic skills have a greater risk of dropping out, incurring substantial debt, and defaulting on student loans.

But Smith said the rules don't make sense here.

"We teach the guys how to make shoes, this is traditional blacksmith work," he said.

It's the only horseshoeing school of just 26 across the country that is required to show proof of a high school education.

The state has received the lawsuit and has yet to respond.

More from Jennifer McGraw
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