Our kids go to a public school similar to your public school-- I think the breakdown is 50% black, 10% latino, 5% native american, and 35% white. We are white. So many kids qualify for free lunch that the lunches are free for everyone. It is called a Title I school, and qualifies for lots of extra funding (and programs) because of the poverty level.
We *love* this school The teachers and principal are great. There are extra teachers (a reading teacher and a math teacher) who just go around and help out in the classroom. There is some partnership with the local university, and as a result, there are lots of young volunteers from a variety of education classes.
My children don't need any interventions. We supplement alot at home (the typical stuff; reading, travel, foreign language acquisition, etc). They do very well at school. Our oldest struggled for a while in first grade, I think mostly with developmental issues. She just wasn't ready to read yet, developmentally (she is also one of the youngest in her class). So we pulled her out half days and homeschooled the reading and the math for most of that year. It made all the difference in the world. Our school district is VERY good about working with homeschoolers and their families. They allow home schooled children to go to school on a part time basis, on a schedule worked out by the parent and teacher together. This might be an option in your district.
I had no problem putting my kids in public school. 1) my dh is a public school teacher. I see how dedicated he is, and how there is no teacher in a private school that is any better or more dedicated than he is. His students win academic awards, and go on to do extremely well in his subject matter in college. He teaches German and Spanish, and no matter what sort of school his students attend (ivy league or state college), they always end up quizzing out of 4-6 semesters of language, and usually of many other subjects as well. This leads em to reason #2: if kids put any effort into it, they can enter college as a sophomore or junior. Our school district is very good, oneof the top in the state. So although our kids' school is lower performing for the district, it is a million times better than any school *I* ever went to, and better than most in the state. 3) There is more to school than academics. My kids are interacting with children that they would not have had we homeschooled. Our homeschool group and our circle of friends is very liberal, very educated, and very white. At school, they are learning how to handle all sorts of people, cultures and behaviors. The school social worker goes around to the classrooms and teaches conflict resolution; these are some of the lessons our kids talk about the most, especially my youngest. She encorporates this at home and I assume at school. 4) I simply feel more comfortable at the school. When we went to an upper-middle class school for a while, I hated it. I'm sure we were the only people who didn't have a nintendo, anSUV, and a mama who didn't wear make up. The teachers didn't discipline (or rather, the principal didn't back them), and so privileged little brats, oh, I'm sorry, I mean mommy's little angels were everywhere. My oldest had several in her class. That school closed (due to budget cuts). At our new school, lots of people walk or ride their bike to school. Lots of mamas don't wear make-up. There is a huge variety of funky people in the area who send their kids to school there. The discipline problems remain, I think, in a different form, driven more by the opposite of spoiling. The school has some great policies in place to help kids out, to learn good behaviours, to intervene when theings aren't going well at home. We fit in much better here.
Good luck with your decision. I agree with the others who suggest you hang out at the school, talk to the teachers. Maybe your kids can even go for a day, to see what they think.