PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – A first-of-its-kind class-action lawsuit in Pinellas County, Fla., could force the local school board to reveal how it teaches and disciplines its 20,000 black students, who struggle academically in disproportionate numbers to students of other races.
"Public education, to me personally, is specifically set up to dumb us down," said William Crowley, who filed the lawsuit.
Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Orlando Salinas.
Crowley said the white-run school system allowed his son to fall behind. His remedy doesn't call for monetary remuneration. Instead, he said he wants the system fixed.
"The facts are overwhelming and not just in Pinellas County, but nationwide, there is a high failure rate of black students across this country," Crowley said.
The lawsuit cites a consistent gap between black and white high-school graduates in Pinellas County. The class failure rate is more than twice as high among blacks. Discipline problems are 39 percent more frequent than with white students.
School board Superintendent Clayton Wilcox says the explanation is simple: More black students break the rules. He says his teachers can't be held accountable for life lessons some students never learned at home.
"Someone needs to point a finger back at themselves and say 'What part do I have in this?' and maybe this community needs to look at itself and ask what part do we have in this," Wilcox said.
The lawsuit could compel black students and their parents to discuss in open court how they prepare their children for school, both academically and socially.
One critic argues it's not the school's fault that black students are not learning.
"To suggest that the school district can somehow uniquely single out black kids and give them inferior educations while giving other kids a better education is kind of ludicrous," said Ward Connerly, head of the American Civil Rights Institute.
The next step is to notify each student in this county that they are part of a class-action lawsuit. For its part, the school board says it simply wants to get back to the business of teaching, but also wants its day in court.