Potential Medical School Applicants With Learning Disabilities Sue After Not Receiving Admissions Test Accommodations
Four potential medical school applicants with learning disabilities and two advocacy groups on Monday filed a class-action suit in Alameda County Superior Court alleging that the students were denied extra time to complete the medical school entrance exam in violation of state disability laws, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Association of American Medical Colleges rejected the students' request for extra time to take the Medical College Admission Test in April because it said they were not severely disabled, according to the suit. Three of the students took the April exam but could not finish it during the allotted time, and the fourth student opted not to take the test. The suit relies on state laws that define disability more broadly than the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Sid Wolinsky, an attorney with Oakland-based Disability Rights Advocates, said the plaintiffs are seeking a statewide order requiring accommodations for test takers with learning disabilities, as well as an immediate injunction that would allow the students to take the next scheduled test Aug. 14 with extra time to finish. Wolinsky said students with learning disabilities have long had problems taking the MCAT, but the number of related suits has increased significantly in the past six years (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).
AAMC spokesperson Retha Sherrod said the association had no comment on the suit, adding that AAMC the group "committed to providing appropriate accommodations on the (test) to disabled applicants" (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/20). Brendan Pierce, one of the plaintiffs who has dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, said he had previously received extra time to complete tests and had done well in school, but "[w]ithout accommodations, I really can't show what abilities I have." Wolinsky said AAMC asserted that students who had excelled on past tests in school did not require additional help. According to the suit, the policy "penalizes individuals with disabilities for the very intelligence, skills, academic commitment and diligence which would allow them to succeed in medical school and become successful doctors" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.