Macon woman sues for extra time on law school test

obrown@macon.comNovember 15, 2013 

A Macon woman has filed a lawsuit against the agency that administers the law school admissions test, contending that it is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not granting her extra time to take the test.

In her suit, Adelyn M. Bargeron said she has had “cognitive impairments” since she was 8 years old, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. She is scheduled to take the Law School Admissions Test on Dec. 7, and she said she needs extra time to take the different portions of the test because of her condition.

Bargeron is a person with a disability protected by federal law, and the council’s denial of her request amounts to discriminatory conduct, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Macon.

Bargeron, who graduated from the University of Georgia earlier this year with a business administration degree, said she submitted “voluminous and extensive” documentation to the Law School Admission Council about her disability history, as well as the previous modifications she has received during each stage of her education.

Her impairments substantially limit her in life activities, including reading and concentrating, the suit says. The test modifications Bargeron seeks “would level the playing field and allow her aptitude and abilities to be fairly and accurately measured” instead of her disabilities.

Results of the Law School Admissions Test are a major factor in determining entrance to law school. The half-day test has multiple sections that measure everything from analytical reason to reading comprehension. There also is a writing portion.

Bargeron has asked for 50 percent more time to take each section of the test, a five-minute break between each portion and a private room without distractions.

The council, however, denied her request for accommodations in September, as well as her appeal in October.

In the council’s latest letter to Bargeron, dated Nov. 4, general counsel Joan Van Tol said Bargeron’s performance on the SAT, also a timed test, while in high school was well above average and that the council would not make special accommodations for Bargeron during the LSAT.

“Her scores on (the SAT) present evidence of her performance under time constraints without accommodations,” Van Tol’s letter to Bargeron’s attorney, Tom Richardson, said in part.

“The evidence shows that when Ms. Bargeron is placed under time pressure on a high-stakes test, she performs at expected levels. ... Regardless of the source of Ms. Bargeron’s claimed reading efficiency deficits, her test-taking history does not support evidence of a functional impairment or substantial limitation that affects her ability to perform as expected on standardized admission tests.”

For now, Bargeron is registered to take the test under standard conditions. She said in her complaint, though, that she will be irreparably harmed if the council doesn’t provide her with test modifications. She will not be able to show her ability and will not receive a score that will enable her to be accepted by a credible law school. In turn, her future professional career options would be significantly reduced, the suit says.

Bargeron seeks an injunction against the council and a declaratory judgment that she is entitled to the accommodations.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396.

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