Freshman continues lawsuit over test timing
Last September, the University denied Metcalf-Leggette’s request for double time on examinations. The University then granted Metcalf-Leggette 50 percent extended time in January, but in a recently filed amended complaint, she maintained that the additional accommodation still leaves her at “the bottom of a slanted, not level, playing field” among her peers, the Princeton Packet reported.
In a standard court procedure, Metcalf-Leggette, a member of the women’s soccer team, met with University representatives in the presence of a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday in an attempt to resolve the ongoing case. No settlement was reached in the proceedings, University general counsel Peter McDonough said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
Metcalf-Leggette declined to comment for this article.
McDonough emphasized that Friday’s meeting was a standard legal procedure and that the University has become more certain of its position with each new development.
“While to my knowledge there has not been any meaningful progress made toward resolving this matter and avoiding a trial, I will remain hopeful that the plaintiff’s advisers and attorneys will come to their senses and will conclude that this isn’t a case that they should continue to press,” McDonough said.
In her original complaint, Metcalf-Leggette said that she was diagnosed in 2003 with four learning disabilities: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mixed-receptive-expressive language disorder, disorder of written expression and developmental coordination disorder. Instead of granting her double time, the Office of Disability Services determined that Metcalf-Leggette’s learning disabilities warranted several other academic accommodations, such as a “reduced-distraction testing environment” and a limit of one exam per day.
Each student’s appeal to ODS is reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis, University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 said.
“Students are asked to self-identify and request accommodations when they reach the college level,” Cliatt said. To determine whether the student’s particular circumstance warrants academic accommodations, she explained, “We go through an extensive consultation process ... with input from external consultants that also includes reviews of psycho-educational evaluations.”
The University hired Robert Mapou, an independent consultant who was approved by Metcalf-Leggette prior to his report, to assess her degree of impairment. The decision to hire Mapou was made after Metcalf-Leggette appealed the denial of extended time to the Office of the Vice Provost last fall, according to the University’s response to the amended complaint.
The University agreed to grant Metcalf-Leggette 50 percent extended time following a second report by Mapou in January and Metcalf-Leggette’s submission of documentation reflecting additional testing on Dec. 24.
In its response, which was filed on Jan. 25, the University explained that the accommodation “means that [the] Plantiff will have had and will continue to have 5 hours 10 minutes in which to complete a scheduled 3-hour examination.”
Cliatt said that ODS currently serves roughly 200 students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, who have various types of disabilities. Of these, 90 undergraduate students receive academic accommodations, roughly 66 of which are extended time allowances.
Despite accusations in the complaint that the University reduced the number of extended time accommodations for the Class of 2013 as a measure to gradually eliminate the program, Cliatt emphasized that fluctuations in the number of accommodations distributed is to be expected and that the average, “approximately 90-100 students,” remains the same.
McDonough reinforced the University’s denial of the plaintiff’s accusations. “I would have a very hard time agreeing with the perception that there is anything in the nature of an intentional trend or mandate that is being implemented by the office,” he said.
He added that the court has not yet set a trial date for the case but that other deadlines by which both parties must submit various documents extend well into next fall.