CA Takes the Lead; LSAC Must End its Discriminatory Policies

September 27, 2012

AB 2122 (Lara) ensures individuals with disabilities do not confront discrimination when requesting disability based LSAT accommodations

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2122, authored by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), ensuring individuals with disabilities receive fair treatment when requesting disability based accommodations on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  The measure makes certain that individuals with disabilities have access to accommodations that level the playing field on the LSAT and that those who receive disability-based accommodations are not branded as disabled.

“The signing of AB 2122 makes it clear that the state of California firmly believes in educational equity and opportunity for ALL,” said Lara. “The hurdles individuals with disabilities face when requesting disability based accommodations on the LSAT are overly burdensome. It is my hope that with AB 2122 the test sponsors of the LSAT will adjust their policies and end discriminatory practices once and for all for individuals with disabilities, not just in California, but across the nation.”

Disability rights organizations across the state and nation agree that the standard for “proving” a disability to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the test sponsor of the LSAT, is excessively high and cost-prohibitive.  According to the policies set forth by the LSAC, an individual who previously received extra time to accommodate a cognitive or physical disability in a college or university setting must also provide a highly specific comprehensive assessment and report from a specialist. The assessment can cost over $3,000 and is in addition to the $160 he or she must pay to register for the exam and the $155 he or she must pay to sign up for the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

Currently, if an individual with a cognitive or physical disability is successful in obtaining extra time from LSAC, a letter is sent to law schools notifying that an accommodation was provided, revealing that a disability exists. This practice is referred to as “flagging” and creates a chilling effect on individuals with disabilities, as the letter advises admissions committees to interpret the test-takers score with great sensitivity, inadvertently rendering the score as inferior to test scores obtained under standard conditions.  In addition to the LSAC’s overly burdensome documentation requirements and flagging practice, individuals with disabilities also face great challenges if they wish to appeal the denial of an accommodation. While a denial appeals process exists, the process is extremely lengthy and is known to unnecessarily delay a student’s taking of the exam by months, years, or in some cases, indefinitely.

AB 2122 arises from ongoing conversations with the disability rights advocates, the legal community, scholars and Assembly Member Lara’s unwavering belief in educational equality. “For far too long, the disability accommodation process has systematically excluded bright and talented individuals from obtaining a fair chance,” said Lara.

AB 2122 ensures that the LSAT measures what it is intended to measure and not the test-takers disability by prohibiting the LSAC from flagging scores obtained with accommodations, requiring the LSAC to give considerable weight to documentation of past accommodations, and requiring LSAC to provide recourse for individuals whose requests for accommodations are denied. The measure is endorsed by the American Bar Association and will take effect January 1, 2013.