Students win $7 million and reforms in ADA dispute over LSAT
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is required to pay $7.73 million to more than 6,000 students after a consent decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Over the past five years, those students have asked for ADA accommodations on the LSAT, which the council administers. LSAC had been flagging for law school admissions administrators the tests of students who had asked for extra time, as well as requiring extra accommodations documentation.
“Essentially, they were asking for a re-diagnosis of a disability in order for students to get accommodations,” says Scott Lissner, ADA coordinator at The Ohio State University and president of the Association on Higher Education And Disability Board.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed the suit initially in 2012 on behalf of 17 disabled applicants, who felt the test flagging was signaling to law schools that their scores may not have been deserved.
According to Lissner, the accommodations request process was also made more burdensome because students had to turn in documentation very early and LSAC would often reject requests without much explanation.
But it’s unclear whether admissions teams being aware of accommodations has impacted decision making. “I have worked with a number of applicants with flagged scores who got into fantastic schools,” says Anna Ivey, a Boston-based law school admissions consultant. “I think it’s too much to assume applicants were being harmed by the flagging.”
According to a press release from LSAC, the board decided to resolve the case not because of any wrongdoings, but because continued litigation and expense was not in the best interest of member schools or prospective law school students.
Upon final approval of the consent decree by a California federal judge, LSAC will reform its accommodations request process and cease flagging tests of students who asked for extra time.
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