He's called a hearing for next month to determine "what measures the State of North Carolina intends to take to remedy the constitutional violation of Halifax County Public Schools failing to provide children with the equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education."
Judge Manning pointed to recent test scores that show 71.3 percent of students in grades 3 through 5 are not reading at grade level and 74.3 percent are not reading at grade level in grades 6 through 8.
"This is irrefutable evidence of a complete breakdown in academics," said Judge Manning.
Eyewitness News left calls for comment with the Halifax County Board of Education office.
Manning has made it his business to oversee academics in North Carolina public schools since handling the Leandro v. State of North Carolina decision more than a decade ago. His ruling in the case - brought by the parents of children in poorer school districts - said children have the right to equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.
He said in his letter Wednesday that poor academic performance at the elementary and middle school level in Halifax County is leading to failure when students get to high school.
"This is academic genocide and it must be stopped," he wrote.