A federal lawsuit against a Florida school district alleges two black women who scored well on an adult skills test in 2010 were accused of cheating because, they were told, "you people don't score that high."
The lawsuit, filed in Ocala on April 20 and announced Monday by the Florida Civil Rights Association, which is representing Lelia Jackson-Burch, alleged violations of civil rights, defamation and false imprisonment.
"Not only did the racially charged statement offend Plaintiff (Jackson-Burch), the manner in which it was stated reveals a level of comfort and bigotry that is usually reserved for private embrace," the lawsuit states.
FCRA president J. Willie David told Reuters that the civil rights group hopes to discover through the lawsuit whether a racist attitude is widespread within the Citrus County school system in west-central Florida where the incident occurred.
The lawsuit comes at a time of heightened racial tension in central Florida following the February 26 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white, Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, in the town of Sanford, barely 80 miles south-east of Ocala.