December 1, 2011 | Press, Testing

Reuters – Woman With Cognitive Disability Sues for More Time to Take LSAT

NEW YORK, Dec 1 (Reuters) – A woman who was granted extra time to take the law-school entrance exam in 1992 after she sustained a gunshot wound is suing exam administrators for refusing to give her another extension — this time to accommodate a cognitive disability — when she re-takes the exam this week.

Lisa Rousso of Fort Salonga, New York, filed a 20-page complaint in Brooklyn federal court on Monday against the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT.

Rousso first took the LSAT during the 1989-1990 school year and attended Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles from 1990 to 1991, after which she left her studies, according to the complaint. The following year Rousso sat for the LSAT again, and was given extra time to complete the exam after she presented a doctor”s note regarding “a gunshot wound to the arm,” the complaint said.

She did not return to law school following the second exam.

In the suit filed Monday, Rousso, 41, claims that she suffers from a cognitive disorder stemming from the removal of a brain lesion in 2005, which causes her to read and write more slowly.

In denying her extra time to take the LSAT, the admissions council is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law, the lawsuit says.

“I’m frustrated and I’m angry,” Rousso said in an interview. “I did my end of what was required, and I feel like they’re not doing theirs.”

LSAC spokeswoman Wendy Margolis said the council does not comment on lawsuits.

“OPEN TO TALKING”

Rousso seeks a court order ensuring that she be given six hours to take the exam, which is normally administered in three hours. She is also requesting additional time for rest breaks between each of the test’s five sections.

“These accommodations are necessary in order to make the [examination] accessible to Plaintiff because of her disability,” the complaint said.

Rousso also seeks compensation for her legal fees and the cost of taking the LSAT.

Jo Anne Simon, Rousso’s lawyer, said she is in contact with LSAC’s attorneys, who she said are “are open to talking about it.”

Simon said it has become harder to get accommodations for a disability than it was when Rousso was granted extra time in 1992. “At that time, she provided the doctor’s note and it was no big deal,” she said. “The demands have gotten greater.”

According to the LSAC website, prospective test-takers seeking accommodations for a cognitive or psychological impairment must include the results of “psychoeducational/neuropsychological testing” and a “full diagnostic report.”

After Rousso submitted her application for an accommodation in early October, LSAC informed her that her neuropsychological evaluation “did not meet the requirements” of the guidelines, and later demanded that she undergo “additional neuropsychological testing,” according to the complaint.

“My client submitted everything she had to [LSAC] and met their requirements,” Simon said in an interview.

Margolis declined to comment on LSAC’s policy for accommodating disabilities.

OTHER LITIGATION

LSAC has been sued before by candidates seeking accommodations for disabilities.

In 2009, the National Federation for the Blind sued the council for allegedly discriminating against blind law-school applicants by failing to make its website and LSAT-preparation materials accessible to the blind. Last April, LSAC settled that case, agreeing to make its website more accessible to the visually impaired.

In June, a Wesleyan University senior with attention deficit disorder sued LSAC for denying her double the usual time to complete the LSAT. That case is pending in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

(Reporting by Moira Herbst)

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