Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Supreme Court Questions Classification of Reading Disorder as Disability

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Supreme Court Questions Classification of Reading Disorder as Disability

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court set aside a ruling last month that said New York officials had discriminated against a law school graduate who failed the state's bar examination five times.

The justices told a federal appeals court to restudy its ruling in light of their decisions earlier in the month limiting the reach of the federal Americans With Dis-abilities Act, which bans discrimination against the disabled. In three rulings, they narrowed significantly whom the 1990 law protects. According to the high court, people with physical impairments that can be treated with medication or devices such as eyeglasses or hearing aids generally are not protected by the law.

In the New York case, Marilyn Bartlett, the law school graduate, had argued that her reading disorder qualified her for protection under the federal law. A federal trial judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the college instructor who earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from New York University despite her disability. She has flunked the New York bar exam five times.

The lower courts ruled that the board of examiners, which administers the state bar exam, had discriminated against Bartlett by failing to accommodate her and now must pay her monetary damages. …

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