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University Of California Must Prohibit Submission Of ACT, SAT Scores, Judge Rules

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A student walks toward Royce Hall on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California on March 11, 2020. - Starting this week many southern California universities including UCLA will suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus concerns. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

A California judge has barred the University of California (UC) from accepting ACT or SAT scores from prospective students for fall 2021 enrollment because of the pandemic.

The UC board of regents voted in May to drop the test scores as requirements for admission into the university after low-income students sued the school, claiming discrimination because they had less access to tutors and study prep courses than their better-off peers. The school cut the requirement but still allowed students to submit the scores voluntarily.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman ordered the school on Tuesday to bar scores from the SAT and ACT exams from its admissions process. Seligman said allowing the tests disadvantages disabled students blocked from taking the exams during the pandemic because many testing sites are closed, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Nondisabled, economically advantaged, and white test-takers have an inherent advantage in the testing process,” the judge said in the ruling.

“Plaintiffs have shown that they are denied meaningful access to the additional ‘benefit, aid or service’ that the test option affords. Unlike their non-disabled peers, they do not have the option to submit test scores; even if they did, their chances of obtaining necessary test accommodations are virtually non-existent,” Seligman said.

Laura Kazan, the executive director of College Seekers and one of the case’s plaintiffs, said she was “extremely grateful for this ruling.”

“The SAT and ACT are barriers for students who have disabilities because they encounter difficulties obtaining accommodations and testing,” Kazan told Fox News. “These students spoke out and were finally heard.”

UC had argued that there is no way for the applicants bringing the lawsuit to prove that the school discriminated against them by voluntarily accepting some applicants’ exam scores.

UC President Michael Drake and the board of regents issued a statement in response to the ruling on Tuesday, saying that the university is weighing whether further legal action is warranted.

“UC respectfully disagrees with the court’s ruling,” the statement said. “An injunction may interfere with the university’s efforts to implement appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies, and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

The students’ attorneys, meanwhile, cheered the judge’s Tuesday decision in statements to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“There is no place at the University of California for (a) policy that denies students with disabilities the opportunity to fairly compete for admissions,” attorney Marci Lerner Miller said. “The court’s decision today is a monumental step towards removing barriers long faced by students with disabilities in higher education.”

Attorney Katherine Farkas added: “More than 170,000 students will apply to enter the University of California in fall 2021. For the first time in decades, the country’s preeminent public university system will not award admissions based on an exam that systematically discriminates on the basis of race, wealth and disability.”

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