State Bar officials apologizing to students wrongly told they had failed exam

Scoring error leads to GA bar exam failures

ATLANTA -- Georgia Bar officials are issuing personal apologies to 90 law students who were told they failed the bar exam, when in reality, they passed.

It happened twice, both during the July 2015 exam and the one in February 2016. However, the issues were only recently discovered.

A lot of these potential lawyers paid up to $500 to take the grueling exam again, when they actually didn’t need to. But that’s just the beginning of their headaches.

The grueling Georgia Bar Exam is taken over two days, after completing three tough years of law school, with complicated questions about evidence, admissibility and  hearsay.

Students study for the test for months.

In the past year, 90 Georgia students have been notified they failed, but it turns out the epic fail came from the Bar Examiners -- those who administer and grade the test.

“It’s when the scoring was calculated, mistakes were made,” said Board of Examiners chairman John Sammon.

Sammon says an alert employee found one error last month, which prompted a massive investigation that led to 90 more.

Basically, most students who failed the test by five points, he says, should have passed. The test was scaled incorrectly.

“We’re in the business of contacting those 90 people now, electronically , by mail and I’m actually calling each one of them personally,” Sammon said.

One of those students wrote on Facebook she has already moved to Wisconsin after failing the Georgia Bar. Another said she has not been able to practice law in Atlanta. They are all getting the good news – albeit belated – this week.

“The reactions have been amazingly positive and appreciative, because the first thing I’m telling them is we apologize,” Sammon said. “We are reimbursing their costs for taking the exam a second time, exam fees and fees they paid to third parties through our office.”

“What about potential lost wages for someone who couldn’t get a job?” asked 11Alive’s Valerie Hoff.

“That is a bigger issue than we are prepared to discuss,” Sammon said.

Some of these brand new members of the Georgia Bar say they plan legal action, something they are now fully qualified to carry out.

This is not the first time this has happened. A few years ago in Nebraska, a number of people were first told they had passed the bar exam, but later found out they had failed.

 

(© 2016 WXIA)


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