ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss told reporters at a news conference Thursday the lawsuit is about "a right of children to read."
The suit against the state and others seeks class-action status. It claims that students in the district have received poor education. The Associated Press left messages seeking comment from state officials named in the suit.
The Detroit-area district is among the poorest performing in the state. Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager in May to fix Highland Park Schools' budget deficit, which rose from $6.6 million to more than $11 million.