Law School Admission Council Settles Disability Lawsuit
The organization that administers the law school admission test will pay $7.73 million to settle claims that it failed to accommodate exam takers with disabilities.
The settlement was announced on Tuesday by the Justice Department, which in 2012 intervened in a class action brought on behalf of test takers in California.
The lawsuit alleged that the Law School Admission Council routinely denied accommodation requests—even in cases where applicants had a permanent physical disability or had been afforded such testing accommodations since elementary school—and had engaged in widespread and systemic discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
LSAC did not admit guilt or liability in its agreement with the DOJ and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Under the terms of the agreement, LSAC will pay $7.73 million to compensate the more than 6,000 individuals who over the past five years had requested accommodations such as extra time, which one litigant with dyslexia was allegedly denied despite extensive documentation of the diagnosis and his long history of testing accommodations on AP exams, the SAT and other tests.
The council will also reform its policies and stop flagging LSAT scores for people who receive extended time—a practice the lawsuit alleged was discriminatory because it identified to law schools that a test taker had a disability.
“The reforms will impact tens of thousands of test takers with disabilities for years to come,” DOJ said in a statement on Tuesday.
For its part, LSAC said in a statement: “We decided to resolve this case not because we believe that we were wrong in our position, but because we do not think that continued litigation is in the best interests of our member schools or prospective law school students.”
The council noted that DOJ had known of its practice of “annotating” accommodated test scores since at least 1986, and said “it would have been more appropriate, and more productive for all concerned,” for the agency to have pursued the changes through “a traditional notice-and-comment rulemaking” instead of resorting to litigation.
LSAC administered the law school exam to 105,532 applicants in the 2013-2014 academic year. That’s the lowest number since 1998-1999, and a 6.2% drop compared to the previous year.
The highest number of LSAT takers was in 2009-2010, when 171,514 people sat the exam.
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