College Admissions Scandal Reportedly Took Advantage of Disability Accommodations for Standardized Testing

March 19, 2019, 6:44 PM UTC

The orchestrator behind the college admissions scandal that saw charges brought against high-profile celebrities and CEOs reportedly took advantage of disability accommodations to help students cheat on their SAT or ACT tests.

William “Rick” Singer, a college admittance coach turned fixer, told parents to have their children fake a learning disability to obtain a doctor’s note for extended time on exams, the Wall Street Journal reports. Singer then bribed a proctor at a specific location and flew a test taker there to either take the test for the student or change the students’ answers.

The test taker was reportedly paid $10,000 for each exam—a fraction of the $200,000 to $6.5 million some parents paid Singer in exchange for their child’s admittance to a top university like Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, or Yale. Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other counts last week.

The accommodations program that Singer took advantage of helps students with certain disabilities have a fair shot at succeeding as well as their peers and is mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students may need extra time on an exam, use a scribe to transfer answers to a Scantron bubble sheet, or a distraction-free room to aid focus.

According to the WSJ, up to one in four students at some elite U.S. universities benefit from these accommodations, mostly due to needs surrounding depression and anxiety.