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Wrongfully Dismissed Medical Student Irving Salmeron Files Disability and Race Discrimination Suit Against UCSF School of Medicine


CONTACT: R. Michael Flynn (510) 893-3226,

Jessica Juarez (415) 238-2414,

Video and petition at

Seeing no other alternative to redress his wrongful, discriminatory dismissal from UCSF’s School of Medicine, Irving Salmeron has taken his case to court.  In the recently filed suit against the UC Regents, Irving Salmeron, alleges that UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine discriminated against him when the school failed to provide him with reasonable accommodations for his ADHD. 

After attempting to negotiate with the school’s administration a return to UCSF and a correction to his academic record failed, Mr. Salmeron reluctantly concluded that legal action remained his only realistic option. “Obviously, I wish it hadn’t come to this,” he said, “But what other choice did I have?  Becoming a doctor has been my dream for as long as I can remember.  I have to get a fair shot at that dream.”  

After graduating from UC Berkeley with double-majors in Molecular & Cell Biology and Integrative Biology, completing a research thesis at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, and scoring in the top 15% on the MCAT, a standardized examination for prospective medical students, Irving’s record of high academic achievement led to numerous admissions into top medical schools throughout the country.

After Mr. Salmeron experienced some academic difficulty in his second year, UCSF faculty diagnosed him with ADHD/ADD.   After this initial setback, Mr. Salmeron went on to successfully complete his second year and pass the USMLE Step 1, a standardized examination for medical licensing, on his first attempt. However, when Mr. Salmeron began to experience disability-related academic challenges in his first clinical year (third year of the four-year medical curriculum), rather than the school offering him assistance, UCSF officials labeled his disability as an excuse and dismissed him towards the end of his third year of medical school.

In taking this punitive approach to his disability, Mr. Salmeron alleges UCSF violated its own academic remediation policies, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal Rehabilitation Act, and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.  Mr. Salmeron also alleges UCSF failed to properly train its administrators to properly follow their own policies, which are based on anti-discrimination law.

Mr. Salmeron and many UCSF faculty members who have worked and mentored him believe that he can succeed at completing his medical education. Many UCSF faculty and students submitted statements in support to prevent his dismissal.

“I am convinced that we—collectively—have failed to provide sufficient support to ensure Irving’s success…We admitted Irving to UCSF.  Although it is not our responsibility to graduate him if he doesn’t meet our expectations, it is definitely our responsibility to make sure he has a fair shot at it.” -Associate Clinical Professor of Family & Community Medicine at UCSF

“While at UCSF, [Irving’s] past was often highlighted as examples of tenacity and achievement despite all odds.  He participated in medical student panels as part of outreach efforts and during a number of receptions with donors to UCSF…Irving represents an unusual and remarkable addition to our medical school.  How can we give up on students like Irving who we purposefully bring to enhance our educational community?” -Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF

Mr. Salmeron, of Mexican American heritage, also includes claims for racial and national origin discrimination in his complaint.  Other, non-Mexican American UCSF medical students with same or similar disabilities spoke at Mr. Salmeron’s UC grievance hearing, and shared how they benefited from reasonable accommodations allowing them to succeed.  Unlike those students, Mr. Salmeron was denied reasonable accommodations, and denied a meaningful interactive process to determine what accommodations would be reasonable.

Furthermore, UCSF used Mr. Salmeron’s image on its brochures to improve the school’s appearance of diversity, and sent Mr. Salmeron to Sacramento to speak to the California legislature as the face of their Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved, to persuade them to continue to fund the program.  “Ironically, although UCSF used Mr. Salmeron’s image in its publicity materials to make the school appear diverse, and used Mr. Salmeron to speak to funders, when Mr. Salmeron needed UCSF to help him out—to just follow the laws requiring accommodations of disabilities, UCSF denied him a helping hand,” said R. Michael Flynn, one of Mr. Salmeron’s lawyers.

Irving hopes to gain the support of the public and the press in his journey to obtain justice.

For more information, and a video about Mr. Salmeron’s case, please visit:    

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