After being denied twice, a 22-year-old University of Minnesota graduate with attention deficit disorder and a learning disability won the extra time and other accommodations he sought to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the federal government announced Tuesday.
The Justice Department said last week's settlement with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is the first under revised regulations covering examinations and courses under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
"National testing entities must ensure that the standardized tests they administer allow persons with disabilities to demonstrate their aptitude and abilities on tests, rather than being placed at a disadvantage because of their disabilities," said B. Todd Jones, U.S. attorney for Minnesota.
The unidentified complainant from Minnetonka took his Law School Admission Test over the weekend and is awaiting the results, said Chris Jozwiak, his attorney. The standardized exam is required of all applicants to American Bar Association-accredited law schools in the United States.
Jozwiak described his client as a "great young guy" who was "excited that he could work something out."
Joan Van Tol, the council's lead attorney in the settlement, would not answer specific questions, saying, "I'm not sure there is anything newsworthy" in the deal.
Van Tol did say the Pennsylvania-based company is "fully compliant with the ADA" and its practices "will not change because of this settlement agreement."
As part of the settlement, the council agreed to double the standard testing time on each section and to allow the complainant breaks between sections, a separate and quiet testing area, permission to use his own computer for the writing section, permission to use scratch paper and use of an alternative answer sheet.
The complainant has received testing accommodations from elementary school through his graduation in three years from the University of Minnesota in 2009, including on national standardized tests such as PSAT, SAT and Advanced Placement exams.
Other cases for ADD clients
He is at least the second Twin Cities man this year who has fought with the council for accommodations for attention deficit disorder.
Michael Logan, of St. Louis Park, sued this spring in federal court seeking extra time and other allowances. Logan, who attended St. Paul Academy/Summit School and Whitman College in Washington state, withdrew his suit once the council gave him twice the normal amount of time, said his attorney, Charles Weiner.
Weiner said he has filed seven suits since 2005 against the council. Compared with other professional boards, "I have found the LSAC to be the most difficult" to deal with on accommodation requests from the disabled, he said.
"In my opinion, they are the gatekeeper, and they take a great deal of pride in that role," he said. "They are of the belief that giving extra time is giving an advantage, but there is no credible proof that that's the case."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482