MCAT wins first step in lawsuit

But lawyers for four medical school applicants with learning disabilities said the denial of a preliminary injunction will not affect the outcome of the case.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Sept. 6, 2004

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Plaintiffs in a discrimination suit against the Medical College Admission Test suffered a setback when a California judge denied their request for special accommodations to take the Aug. 14 test.

An attorney for the four medical school applicants said the denial of the preliminary injunction would not hinder their lawsuit and was not an indication of future decisions.

According to the lawsuit, the applicants have conditions that include dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

They claim the denial of their requests was discriminatory.

Though the Alameda County Superior Court judge rejected the request for special accommodations for the Aug. 14 exam, MCAT officials did grant two of the students the accommodations.

They were given additional time to take the test, a separate room free of distractions, and one was allowed to use a word processor without spell check.

Bob Burgoyne, legal counsel for the Assn. of American Medical Colleges, which oversees the MCAT, said that the two who were granted special accommodations had appeals under review before the lawsuit was filed, and the decision to grant their requests was done within the normal appeals process.

Andres Turner, one of the plaintiffs granted accommodations for the Aug. 14 exam, said he was disturbed by what he perceived as a fickle decision process.

"I submitted the exact same information in April, was denied, appealed and was denied again," Turner said. "I applied for the August exam and appealed and that was denied."

When he appealed yet again, Turner said he only included one more piece of paper among the many evaluating his learning disability, which slows his ability to assimilate new information visually.

The document was an analysis of a standardized test he took prior to high school. The actual results of this test had been submitted before.

Turner said he received accommodations on college admissions standardized tests such as the SAT.

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