DOVER, Del. — A Sussex County citizens group has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Indian River School District of racial discrimination.

The Coalition for Education Reform claims that the district is using the George Washington Carver Academy, a special education school, as a “punitive dumping ground” for African-American students branded as “troublemakers.”

The group says black students are being removed from mainstream schools and sent to Carver in disproportionate numbers on flimsy pretexts and for arbitrary periods of time, while their educational needs are neglected.

According to the complaint, black students accounted for about 13 percent of the overall student population in the district last year, but 43 percent of the Carver population.

Michael Stafford, an attorney for the district, declined to comment Tuesday on the pending litigation.