Education For Poor Students Threatened By Exclusionary Housing Policies, Report Says
Tanya McDowell, a Connecticut mother, made headlines last year when she was accused of stealing — specifically, of stealing an education for her son.
McDowell, who was homeless, was accused of felony larceny by authorities who said she sent her child to a stronger school in Norwalk, instead of the one she was zoned to in Bridgeport, her last permanent address.
“Who would have thought that wanting a good education for my son would put me in this predicament?” McDowell said in court last month, according to The Connecticut Post. Her eyes downcast, McDowell pleaded guilty to fraudulently enrolling her son in the wrong school district and selling drugs. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
A new Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program report released Thursday lists which metropolitan areas’ housing policies most severely impede low-income students from attending high-performing schools, and found that zoning laws preventing the construction of affordable housing in wealthier neighborhoods are still widespread.
The report, “Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High-Scoring Schools,” concludes that restrictive zoning laws create “economic segregation that prevents millions of American children from getting the quality education they need.” The paper, written by Brookings senior research analyst Jonathan Rothwell, notes that in some cities, paying for private school is actually cheaper than moving to enroll in a better public school.
“I’d like people to think about the fact that it costs a lot of money to live near a high-scoring school,” Rothwell said in an interview. “Instead of moving toward opportunity, we’re magnifying inequality because of the way we assign students [to schools] based on where they live.”
While policies that affect teachers, such as tenure and evaluations based on student test scores, have garnered recent attention and traction among state legislators, the Brookings paper makes the case for using zoning laws to change education. Rothwell said while there was movement toward changing zoning laws in the 1970s, a Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutionality of exclusionary zoning quashed momentum.
“We don’t hear it so much because it’s hard politically,” said Dianne Piche, a former U.S. Education Department official, who now leads education efforts for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Efforts like this have been really, really scaled back. There’s been very little interest on the part of this administration … but it would be sensible to coordinate housing policy and school policy.”
The disparities are clear. On average, low-income students attend schools whose state test scores are in the 42nd percentile, but their more affluent peers attend schools with scores in the 61st percentile, Rothwell found. He also uncovered a connection between less restrictive zoning policies and smaller score gaps. According to the report, housing near a high-scoring public school costs 2.4 times more per year than housing near low-performing schools.
“We think of public education as free and open to all, but the quality of public education that the family has access to is largely determined by their income,” Rothwell said.
And while the school-choice movement touting charter schools and vouchers aims to broaden parents’ educational options, Rothwell said those offerings are limited. “Families have a strong preference for schools that are closest to them,” he said. “Even if they have two or three other options, those options might not be any better.”
Charter schools in the same district as low-performing schools in concentrated poverty don’t offer the benefits of integration — found to boost performance — that schools located in inclusionary zoning can bring.
The Brookings paper represents the first effort to tie zoning policy to educational quality on a city-by-city basis. Rothwell analyzed data from 84,000 schools, and ranked metropolitan areas in accordance with the test-score gap between middle/high- and low-income students, as well as the housing cost gap between high- and low-scoring schools.
The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.-area had the largest test score gap between poor and affluent students, Rothwell found. Hartford, Conn., Milwaukee, Wis. and New Haven, Conn., also had significant gaps. The Bridgeport-area had the largest housing cost gap. Connecticut’s performance gap has been well-documented, and is in fact the central argument of a controversial campaign led by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.) to alter teacher tenure and increase preschool access.
But his proposals don’t touch on housing. “If you look at the income-related segregation and the housing price differentials by metro area … Connecticut has extreme economic segregation,” said Bruce Baker, an education professor at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. “One of the things that makes northeastern cities so much worse is the extreme differences in wealth.”
The Washington, D.C.,-area, on the other hand, had the 68th-largest score gap and the 80th-largest housing cost gap. Its ranking might stem from the fact that the area encompasses the Montgomery County Public Schools district in Maryland, a school district that has deliberately crafted housing policies that accommodate low-income tenants.
According to a 2010 study by RAND Corp.’s Heather Schwartz, Montgomery County’s poorest students performed better in affluent schools.
The Brookings paper proposes the elimination of exclusionary zoning policies altogether, saying such a move could “produce large educational gains and economic benefits for low-income and minority children and families, and the U.S. economy as a whole.” Since such sweeping policy is likely unfeasible, Rothwell suggests generous housing vouchers for neighborhoods with top-performing schools, and mandating that future construction include a certain amount of affordable units.
“This isn’t just an outcome of free-market forces,” Rothwell said. “There are laws and regulations imposed on markets by local governments in affluent neighborhoods that restrict the density and affordability of housing. This exacerbates inequality, economic segregation and makes it all the more difficult for low-income families to move from those places.”
Still Separate and Unequal, Generations After Brown v. Board
Protesters march against the segregation of U.S. schools. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/National Archives and Records Administration
Today is the 57th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared racial segregation in U.S. public schools unconstitutional. Also today, American schools are more segregated than they were four decades ago.
If eradicating racial segregation in education was the original civil rights battle, it continues to be the most enduring one. A court decision that called “separate but equal” schools unlawful led to a couple hopeful decades of racial integration. But today most U.S. kids go to schools that are both racially and socioeconomically homogenous.
Around 40 percent of black and Latino students in the U.S. are in schools than are over 90 percent black and Latino, according to a 2009 study by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project. The schools that black and Latino kids are concentrated in are very often high-poverty schools, too. The average black student goes to a school where 59 percent of their classmates live in poverty, while the average Latino student goes to a school that’s 57 percent poor.
And it’s not just blacks and Latinos who are racially isolated. White students go to schools that are 77 percent white, and 32 percent poor.
The Obama administration, which is leading an aggressive school reform agenda, knows what’s going on. In a major speech calling for the overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2009, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged in understated terms the re-segregation of U.S. schools, as well as the fatigue with everything that’s been attempted to address it.
“Most minorities were still isolated in their own classrooms,” Duncan said of students growing up in the civil rights era, adding, “Many still are today, and we must work together to change that.”
“We’ve had five decades of reforms, countless studies, watershed reports like ‘A Nation at Risk,’ and repeated affirmations and commitments from the body politic to finally make education a national priority,” Duncan said. “And yet we are still waiting for the day when every child in America has a high quality education that prepares him or her for the future.”
But the Obama administration has been otherwise silent on re-segregation in schools, even as its reform policies have targeted poor communities of color where the lowest-performing schools are located. Twenty-first century racial homogeneity in U.S. schools is a product of decades of regressive court decisions as well as residential segregation.
“There are no significant state or federal programs and little private philanthropy addressing policy to either produce better integrated schools with more racial and economic diversity or to train teachers and students about ways to more effectively run impoverished multiracial schools,” wrote the UCLA study’s author Gary Orfield.
Part of it comes from collective fatigue. The initial, post-Brown push for integrated classrooms gave way over the years to wars over busing and several Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s that forced schools to drop race as a consideration for dealing with school assignments. The Court’s 2007 decision limiting Seattle and Louisville school districts from implementing desegregation policies completed its long slide away from Brown v. Board. Meanwhile, education advocates shifted their calls from demands for integration to calls for equity. Alongside that shift, a numbers and testing obsession was taking hold, catalyzed by the 1983 “A Nation at Risk” report Duncan named. That obsession now dominates education reform.
Integrating schools is still a worthwhile goal. Researchers have found that desegregation, while always thorny politically, is one of the most direct methods for raising the education achievement of students of color, especially those that are poor. Columbia University researchers found that when they controlled for other outside socioeconomic factors, students in schools where black and Latino kids were isolated from kids of other races had fewer math and literacy skills—that their educational development was in effect limited by the racial composition of their schools.
And researchers at the University of Connecticut evaluated new strategies like those popularized by North Carolina’s Wake County school district. There, students in wealthier neighborhoods can attend magnet schools in poorer neighborhoods, while students in poorer neighborhoods attend schools in wealthier neighborhoods. Student achievement improved in the system. As an added bonus, researchers also found that allowing kids of different backgrounds to hang out with each other improved students’ racial attitudes about each other.
Still, courts and tea partier-dominated school boards, have continually hampered integration efforts.
Today, the major thrusts of education reform, echoed and pushed in Obama administration policy, are teacher accountability through testing and charter-school expansion. In this iteration of the school reform saga, race is everywhere—acknowledging the existence of the achievement gap is an uncontroversial statement these days. But actually naming, and addressing, the roots of educational inequities is passé.
As the Economic Policy Institute’s Richard Rothstein told me when I was researching the impacts of the recession on education in communities of color, “Everybody acknowledges differences in achievement but nobody wants to address the inequalities that produce them.”
Indeed, the discourse today is schizophrenic in many ways. Teachers, for instance, are singled out as both the ultimate solutions to and the biggest culprits for our nation’s education woes. Duncan and his colleagues, the celebrity school reformers like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, and the big-city mayors who’ve backed their reforms often laud and eviscerate teachers in the same breath.
The Obama administration has made adopting punitive teacher accountability policies that evaluate teachers based on their students’ test scores a requirement for states that want some federal education money. Through Race to the Top, Obama’s marquee education reform project, states have been asked to adopt merit-pay schemes that also tie teachers’ jobs to their students’ performance on standardized tests. States have also been asked to lift caps on charter schools and designate failing schools for takeover by, among other entities, outside charter groups.
States are not, however, rewarded for adopting the integration policies that education researchers have found to create such change.
“What’s missing from the debate is a recognition that teachers and schools alone are not the most important influence on a child’s achievement,” said Rothstein.
A coalition of race-conscious reformers are promoting a plan they’ve dubbed the Bolder, Broader Approach to Education, which pushes for a racially explicit and holistic approach to addressing education inequity. There’s noticeably no mention of teacher accountability schemes in the three-point version of that plan. It instead calls for high quality early education for all kids, starting from birth and going all the way up through pre-kindergarten. It also calls for high-quality and consistent after school and summer programs for kids, and routine and preventative health care for kids.
“Low-income children have 30 percent more absences than middle-class kids just due to health alone,” Rothstein said. The idea is to mimic the supports that middle-class kids have regular access to. “Unless we do something there’s still going to be something that’s much more important influencing kids’ education than the quality of their teachers.”
It’s not simply a matter of misplaced priorities. Where educational inequities are concerned, the diagnosis has always been easier than deciding on the course of treatment. Nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, we’ve yet to resolve the fundamental question of how to deliver high quality public education to kids of all races.
And after decades of wrangling over possible fixes, the de facto re-segregation of American schools is something that the education reform movement, including the Obama administration, have all but given up on addressing. If integrating public schools was once the answer to bringing equity to the classroom, these days, most people are too fatigued and frustrated to even try.
But now more than ever, mustering the energy to address, head-on, the roots of educational inequities is an issue of utmost urgency. Students of color are 44 percent, and growing, of the U.S. public school system. Racial segregation is a legacy we’ve yet to shake off, nowhere more than in American public schools, where students of color are educated in schools that are today both separate and unequal.
Report: Zoning Impacts Student Achievement Gap
A report from the Brooking Institute argues that residential zoning restrictions are adding to the gaps in standardized test scores by Adam Bednar
A city like Baltimore, that is desperately trying to improve its schools, should take a look at its neighborhoods’ zoning, according to a report released on Thursday.
The report, which was released by the Brooking Institution, claims that cities with the least restrictive zoning have a reduced cost gap in housing, that decrease creates more economically diverse schools that have lower test score gaps.
“In particular, limiting the development of inexpensive housing in affluent neighborhoods and jurisdictions fuels economic and racial segregation and contributes to significant differences in school performance across the metropolitan landscape,” the report reads.
The report found that neighborhoods in northeast metro areas, with what it calls “relatively high” levels of economic segregation, had that highest test score gap between low income and high income students.
The Baltimore-Towson metro area was among the top 10 in the nation in terms of the split between high and low income students’ test scores on standardized tests.
But the report also found that city’s in the southeast, such as Washington D.C. and Raleigh, and western cities, like Portland and Seattle, had smaller than expected test score gaps between low income and middle/high income students.
Simply moving to an area with a better school could also be a daunting prospect for residents hoping to send their kids to higher scoring schools. In the 100 largest metro areas, housing near a high performing public school costs $11,000 a year than housing near a low performing school, accoridng to the report.
The report also argues the best way to eliminate these achievement gaps may be to “forbid local governments from discriminating based on housing type (e.g. single-family attached or multi-family) or size (lot, floor, or frontage size).” But it recognizes that kind of “aggressive” action is less likely to happen, but that some policies, such as “increasing the portability of housing vouchers” could help address these achievement gaps.
Since news of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s slaying spread across the media, one thing that many have focused on has been Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows those confronted by violence and fearing for their life to take potentially deadly action to protect themselves. Because of this law, Sanford police failed to arrest George Zimmerman, the man who admitted to killing Martin, because he claimed he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.
But while the conversation around Stand Your Ground laws have centered on them being an unfair license to kill, what happens when a person actually stands their ground to protect their life?
For Marissa Alexander, standing her ground has jeopardized her freedom, as the mom of three faces 20 years in prison for protecting herself.
Nearly two years ago, Alexander had just given birth to a newborn baby when she found herself in a violent confrontation with her estranged husband. According to Alexander, her husband had a history of domestic violence and at the time of the confrontation, she had an injunction of protection against him.
On a blog supportting Alexander’s cause, she explains:
In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.
He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me. In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.
Unfortunately for Alexander, her husband called the police and accused her of shooting at him and his sons, and she was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm, which can carry a 20-year sentence in prison.
Despite her well-documented abuse claims, and her husband’s admission that he was the aggressor, a judge dismissed Alexander’s motion to receive immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statue and she is currently awaiting trial.
Alexander says that she is a “law abiding citizen” and just wants to tell her story in the hopes of bringing attention to her case.
“A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies,” she explains. ” I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.”
Find out more about Marissa Alexander’s story on the Justice for Marissa blog.
Justice for the Victims of the Danzinger Bridge Shootings
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, two men were killed in a crime police would work diligently to cover up. Finally, justice has been served
Justice for the Victims of the Danzinger Bridge Shootings
Five former New Orleans police officers were convicted for the actions related to the Danziger Bridge shooting after Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath served as a proverbial “call to arms” for me as and activist. As Alice Walker reminds us, to be an activist is to pay rent for living on this planet. I have never felt so close or responded with such emotion to an historical event. I was more than outraged at the rumors of a city I love dearly, and one that holds such historic and cultural significance for African Americans, being purposely allowed to wash away. As the flood waters swept through the city that much of my family called home, as lives and houses and memories were lost, I realized, like many came to realize with the Trayvon Martin case, that Black lives do not appear to hold the same currency as the lives of other citizens in this country.
Evidence of the lack of value given to Black life and livelihood was apparent with so many New Orleanians being ignored and denied help during and after the storm; with government officials’ lack of haste when responding to the disaster; with thousands who had built their lives, and thus the city of New Orleans, being called refugees while standing on the soil of their homeland; and with a sort of mute response from fellow citizens.
And then there were the shootings on Danzinger Bridge.
Six days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans and other cities along the gulf coast, the Bartholomew family and friends were traveling up the Danzinger Bridge in hopes of finding food and supplies at a local grocery store. There are differing accounts of what happened next, but at some point the police were notified of apparent gunplay and officers rushed to the scene and opened fire.
When the smoke and shooting cleared, two lay dead and four lay wounded. Not one person attacked by police was proven to be carrying a weapon. One of the deceased, a man-child who was the same age as Trayvon Martin when he was killed, is named James Brissette. The other deceased victim was a developmentally disabled man named Ronald Madison- who was reportedly pursued up the bridge as he fled gunfire with his brother Lance, was shot in the back and stomped by police before he succumbed to his gunshot wounds. Lance Robinson, after watching his brother be killed by police officers, was arrested for attempted murder- again despite being visibly unarmed.
When I look at you, my pain becomes unbearable. You took the life of an angel and basically ripped my heart out.
I’ve followed this case from the beginning- the attempted cover-ups by local law enforcement, the US Justice Department investigation, the arrests of the officers, the convictions, and finally, on April 5, 2012, the sentencing of the five officers involved in the shootings and their investigation.
Four officers, were convicted of federal fire arm charges and civil rights violations. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius were sentenced to forty years in prison. Anthony Villavaso received thirty-eight years. Robert Faulcon, who was convicted in both shooting deaths, was given the longest sentence of all- one of sixty-eight years. Retired officer Arthur Kaufman, who investigated the killings, was charged with conspiring to cover-up the wrongdoing of the guilty officers, and was sentenced to six years in prison. Al Jazeera reports that along with a two-hour tongue-lashing towards prosecutors from the presiding federal judge, Lance Madison addressed the officers who murdered his brother and attempted to frame him. To the officers involved in the shootings, and to Faulcon who was convicted of killing his brother, Madison commented, “When I look at you, my pain becomes unbearable. You took the life of an angel and basically ripped my heart out.” He also went on to address Kaufman’s conspiracy to protect fellow officers by saying, “You tried to frame me, a man you knew was innocent, and send me to prison for the rest of my life.”
Unsurprisingly, Al Jazeera’s coverage has been far more comprehensive then what we have seen here in the United States.
These convictions and sentences offer, at least, some semblance of justice to the weary hearted living in New Orleans and those following the case throughout the nation and world. They also offer a glimmer of hope and remind us that, sometimes, with hard work, advocacy, activism and remembrance, righteousness does prevail.
Josie Pickens is a writer, activist and social commentator who blogs at http://www.jonubian.com. Follow her musings on twitter at @jonubian
By David Epstein and Michael McCann, SI.com
Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino tried to sidestep University of Arkansas guidelines to quickly hire his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, as the team’s player development coordinator, according to documents obtained by SI.com. The documents show that Petrino sought a waiver to circumvent a university affirmative action policy requiring that the job be posted for at least 30 days before interviews could commence. Dorrell’s first interview was scheduled even before the waiver was granted by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.
According to the documents, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the job listing for a player development coordinator to serve the football program was posted on March 4. Five days later, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long pushed along a request from Petrino and sent a memo to Danielle Wood, the school’s assistant director of affirmative action, asking if interviews for the position could begin even though the job had been listed for just five days, not the required 30. “We feel that flexibility is needed,” Long wrote.
Records show that on March 12, Carrie DeBriyn, the human resources manager for Arkansas athletics, e-mailed the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance to ask that the hiring process be expedited at Petrino’s behest. The e-mail said, “Coach Petrino would like to request to interview early due to needing a Player Development Coordinator as quickly as possible.” Without filling the position quickly, DeBriyn wrote, “we could potentially make a recruiting error with NCAA rules and regulations.” At 10:44 a.m. that same day, approval was granted to interview candidates. According to records, however, Dorrell’s interviews had already been scheduled and were set to begin at 9:30 that same morning.
Dr. Fritz Polite, sports management professor at Tennessee and director of the Institute for Leadership, Ethics & Diversity, said that Arkansas’s haste in brushing aside affirmative action hiring procedures shows that “the power lies with the coach to sidestep rules … simply because he’s winning.”
Long, who declined to comment for this story, said in a press conference to announce Petrino’s firing on Tuesday that “Coach Petrino’s relationship with Ms. Dorrell gave her an unfair and undisclosed advantage for a position on Coach Petrino’s football staff … and Coach Petrino himself participated in the review and selection process without disclosing his relationship with her and that constitutes a conflict of interest under university policy.” (Petrino has said that he will not appeal his firing, nor seek any part of an $18 million buyout that was in his contract.)
At 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, Petrino crashed his motorcycle on a highway near the University. Petrino initially claimed that he was riding alone, but subsequently admitted that Dorrell was his passenger and that he was having an inappropriate relationship with the 25-year-old. (Dorrell has been placed on paid leave by Arkansas.)
According to Arkansas’ job posting for the football development coordinator, one of the “minimum qualifications” for the position was “two years of prior experience within a football program.” Among coordinator’s responsibilities are staying up to date with eligibility requirements for high school football players, including those who visit the Arkansas campus, and maintaining strong relations with high school football coaches. Although not expressly stated, the position is clearly designed for someone with a football background.
From 159 applicants, three finalists were identified: Ben Wilkerson, Tiffany Fields and Dorrell. According to the resumes they submitted to Arkansas, Wilkerson and Fields had football backgrounds. Dorrell’s resume did not mention football.
The job description also listed “master’s degree in related field” as a preferred qualification. Again, Dorrell was the only finalist not to meet that standard.
According to his resume, Wilkerson completed a master’s degree in sports management at LSU in August 2011. He also had the most extensive football background. Wilkerson was a four-year starter at offensive line at LSU, from 2001 to ’04. He was part of the school’s 2004 national championship team and was named a first-team All-America. He went on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2005 and ’06, and for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and ’08. Petrino was Atlanta’s head coach in ’07. At the time he applied for the Arkansas job, Wilkerson was an intern with the LSU football program. Wilkerson, who joined Grambling State as offensive line coach this month, did not want to comment specifically on the Arkansas situation. “I’m ready to just go on,” he told SI.com. “Of course I interviewed for the position, but I’d rather not discuss it because of the whole thing … I’m starting a new job now and that’s my focal point.”
Polite says he is disappointed that Wilkerson, who is African-American, was apparently the runner-up in an unfair process. There is “a lack of representation of African-American males in player development positions … hiring is often not based on merit.”
Fields, the third finalist, has two master’s degrees from Arkansas, one in communication and one in education, and is currently a law school student at the law school. She worked as a tutor at Arkansas for student athletes, and since ’09 had been an Arkansas recruiting assistant and helped organize summer football camps — which is one of the player development coordinator’s duties — recruiting visits, and team travel. Petrino is listed among Fields’s references.
Dorrell’s resume, unlike the other two, makes no specific mention of the job requirements, but does mention other traits, like “fundraising skills” that are not part of the Arkansas job listing. At the time of her application, according to her resume, the former All-SEC volleyball player was working as the assistant director for women’s athletics at the Razorback Foundation, and before that worked as a graduate assistant in the athletic department.
According to the records, Dorrell met with director of football operations Mark Robinson at 9:30 a.m. on March 12. After a second meeting at 10:15 a.m. with members of the football staff, Dorrell met with Petrino at 11. Her final meeting was at 1:30 p.m. with Jason Shumaker, director of high school relations, and Kevin Peoples, defensive tackles coach.
Wilkerson flew in from Baton Rouge and was interviewed on March 13 beginning at 8 a.m. with his last interview starting at 1:15 p.m. Fields, however, was scheduled for just an hour of interviews: a 10:30 a.m. meeting with Robinson, an 11 a.m. with Petrino, and an 11:30 a.m. with the football team’s recruiting and video coordinators.
On March 19, Long requested a “variance to the affirmative action hiring process” (requiring the job to be posted for at least 30 days) from Wood, the assistant director of affirmative action, so that a candidate could be hired immediately. “Any delay could result in missing a critical recruiting period,” Long wrote in the memo. Included with the request is a letter from Petrino, in which he writes that Fields and Wilkerson did not have enough appropriate experience, and that Dorrell “had the best experience and we felt like she would be the best fit for this position.”
Despite being the only candidate with no experience in football, Dorrell’s “interview feedback” notes identify her as having “the most overall experience of building relationships that the football program is looking for.” The following day, Dorrell received — and signed — an offer letter from Long listing a salary of $55,735, as well as four complimentary tickets to home football games and two complimentary tickets to home games in every other sport.