Two leaders of Baltimore County's black community confronted the school board last night and demanded an end to what they called "a dual system."
"We are in a state of paralysis when it comes to educating African-American students," said Wyatt Coger, who represents the Education Coalition of Organization, an advocacy group that speaks for minority students.
Mr. Coger and the Rev. James Favorite, president of the the Coalition of Concerned African-American Organizations in Baltimore County, said the school system was failing black children.
About 33 percent of county students suspended last year were black although they make up only about 18 percent of the county's school population, they said.
Black children also lag behind in programs for the gifted and talented and account for 22 percent of the special education classes, they added.
"This is shameful," Mr. Coger told the school board.
County School Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel defended the system, although he said improvements need to be made. "It stings to have someone say we encourage a dual system," he said.
Improving student achievement with an emphasis on minority education continues to be the school system's top priority, Mr. Dubel said.