ACT Sued by Disabled Students Over Release of Personal Information

A class action lawsuit was filed against ACT by a group of disabled students and parents of disabled students for the release of personal information.

The nation-wide lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Miller Advocacy Group. They claim that ACT violated the civil rights of disabled students.

The plaintiffs allege that the Iowa City-based testing company acquired the disability status of students taking the ACT college¬†entrance exam and then disclosing that confidential disability information on score reports to colleges and other programs. They also allege ACT sold the information to other for recruitment and enrollment purposes. This activity is a direct violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Unruh Act, California Constitution, and California’s Unfair Competition Law.

“ACT flags students’ test scores, discloses their confidential information to colleges pre-admission, and stigmatizes students with disabilities in the admissions process,” Rahul Ravipudi of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, said. “Not only does this unlawful practice violate the privacy, security and confidentiality of information entrusted to ACT by the students in its care ‚Äď it does so for profit, and at the expense of America’s most vulnerable students who are striving to further their education.”

Their complaint states two ways that ACT illegally uses student’s disability information:¬†

  1. ACT “flags” student score reports by disclosing detailed student disability information and the use of accommodations on the score report it sends to colleges. This information is collected through¬†questions on the online ACT Student Profile Section¬†filled out when students register to take the exam. On exam day students also fill out the Student Information Form.
  2. ACT sells the detailed student disability data to various postsecondary organizations including colleges, scholarship programs, and other third parties who use it for recruitment and marketing related to the admissions process.

The plaintiffs allege unlike ACT sending the score report to colleges; this information was sent without the student or high school’s knowledge.¬†

“I was shocked to learn that ACT was using my disability information against me and making it more difficult for me to get into college and get the money I need to go to college,” Halie Bloom, one of the plaintiffs said. “I’m speaking out, because I know that someone has to stand-up for all of the students who are scared about how their disabilities will be used against them.”

Bloom is a college-bound, 2018 high school graduate who had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) under the IDEA and a 504 Plan under the Rehabilitation Act since middle school, and she took the ACT several times¬†with¬†approved accommodations.¬†ACT acquired Ms. Bloom’s disability status from her testing registration and annotated her score reports with “learning or cognitive disability” that requires special provisions. ACT disclosed Ms. Bloom’s disabilities on all ACT Test score reports sent on her behalf to colleges to which she applied and thereby flagged her score reports. She had no expectation that ACT would include her disability status with her score reports or otherwise ever disclose her confidential disability information.

Read the complaint filed below:

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3 thoughts on “ACT Sued by Disabled Students Over Release of Personal Information

  1. Next someone should start suing College Board for lying to students to get their data and then selling that data. These are children and they have no idea that they can refuse to answer the personal questions that are presented before taking the SAT. Let them all rot in hell!

  2. Highly misleading arguments from the plaintiffs. ACT reports — flags — a score report if a student received an accommodation during testing — extra time, Qs read aloud, etc. That’s all.

    Without flagging, there exists an incentive for students to claim a learning disability (LD), which has become too easy to do. LD students get extra time.

    It is something of a conundrum. Without flagging, ambitious students (and their parents) game the system and get their kids extra time, an unfair advantage. With flagging, universities know which students received an accommodation.

    As for the personal information survey, it stretches credulity for a student to claim they were not aware that that information would be sent to colleges. That’s the only reason for the survey. Students do not have to fill it out if they do not want to. But, some students want colleges to know about a disability.

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