A school board's job posting for a superintendent yielded nine applications. The board then voted to reopen the application period for an additional two weeks. During this time, the board received eight more applicants and ultimately selected a white male candidate, with the vote split along racially divided lines.

A candidate who responded to the original posting sued the school board after he was not offered the position, alleging that the decision to not hire him constituted discrimination based on race. He was a black male.

The school board asserted that its decision to hire the white male candidate was based on qualifications for the job, including the facts that the candidate was the only finalist with a doctoral degree and previous experience as a superintendent. The candidate who was not selected claimed that these reasons were a pretext for discrimination. He pointed out that the chairperson of the search committee commented to other board members that she “didn’t feel that the community was ready for a minority superintendent” and noted that the application deadline was extended after the first application period produced a number of African-American candidates.

The trial court initially dismissed the lawsuit, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this ruling and returned the case for a trial. The appeals court held that the chairperson’s comment, along with her influence over the selection process and her role in reopening the application process, was sufficient evidence to allow a trial to proceed to determine if racial discrimination had occurred.