School-system officials blame both white and black flight for Goldsboro High School's educational slide.
Yet Wayne County is not an obvious setting for concerns about resegregation. Amid the pines and hog farms of eastern North Carolina, it's home to the racially diverse Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Black and white residents of Goldsboro mingle easily as they pick up tomatoes and collards at a small farmers' market.
The lack of integration at the high school surprised the Rev. William Barber II when he moved here in the early 1990s.
"If you can't get it right in Goldsboro ... you can't get it right anywhere in the country," says Dr. Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
The case is a test of how aggressively the Obama administration will pursue such complaints. As such, it could resonate well beyond Goldsboro.
"I'm hopeful that ... other school [districts] in the state and potentially around the country would see that it's no longer acceptable to allow the students in these high-poverty, racially identifiable schools to get a lesser-quality education [than] their white, middle- or upper-class peers," says Mark Dorosin, an adjunct law professor at the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.