Thursday, September 06, 2012

DOJ Moves to Intervene in Testing Accommodations Lawsuit Against LSAC

See this press release, which begins:
The Justice Department announced today that it seeks to intervene in a class action lawsuit against the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) in federal court in San Francisco to remedy violations of theAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit, The Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. LSAC, Inc., et al., charges LSAC with widespread and systemic deficiencies in the way it processes requests by people with disabilities for testing accommodations for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). As a result, the lawsuit alleges, LSAC fails to provide accommodations where needed to best ensure that those test takers can demonstrate their aptitude and achievement level rather than their disability.

The department’s proposed complaint identifies additional victims of LSAC’s discriminatory policies and details LSAC’s routine denial of accommodation requests, even in cases where applicants have submitted thorough supporting documentation from qualified professionals and demonstrated a history of testing accommodations.

The department further alleges that LSAC discriminates against prospective law students with disabilities by unnecessarily “flagging” test scores obtained with certain testing accommodations in a way that identifies the test taker as a person with a disability and discloses otherwise confidential disability-related information to law schools during the admissions process. LSAC’s practice of singling out persons with disabilities by flagging their scores – essentially announcing to law schools that examinees who exercise their civil right to the testing accommodation of extended time may not deserve the scores they received – is discrimination prohibited by the ADA. The department’s proposed complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory damages and a civil penalty against LSAC.

“Credentialing examinations, such as the LSAT, are increasingly the gateway to educational and employment opportunities, and the ADA demands that each individual with a disability have the opportunity to fairly demonstrate their abilities so they can pursue their dreams,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department’s participation in this action is critical to protecting the public interest in the important issues raised in this case.”

One of the victims identified in the complaint, for example, has severe visual impairments and previously received special education services at a school for people who are blind. Even though she provided LSAC with extensive medical documentation of her conditions, as well as proof that she had received testing accommodations since kindergarten, LSAC denied nearly all her requested accommodations, and even refused to provide her a large print test book. When she tried to appeal the denial, LSAC informed her that she had missed the deadline for reconsideration. She then reapplied two more times for testing accommodations, resubmitting all the information previously provided to LSAC, as well as additional medical documentation. Despite her extensive history of receiving the very same testing accommodations throughout her educational career and on standardized tests, and in disregard of the recommendations of a qualified professional, LSAC refused her requested testing accommodations on three separate occasions.
You can find DOJ's complaint in intervention here.



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