Two civil rights groups said Monday they are suing the West Contra Costa school district, alleging that students attending an alternative school in Richmond are denied basic educational services and subjected to unlawfully decrepit physical conditions.

The Contra Costa Superior Court suit seeks to force the district to relocate its Community Day School and improve staffing and materials available to students.

A news release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights announcing the suit alleges that "students have been subjected to a school environment that at times has had no electricity, no heat, leaky ceilings, insufficient desks and chairs, rat and feral cat feces and mushrooms growing out of the floors."

"It's appalling that local students go to school in these conditions," said Jory Steele, managing attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. "It's tragic and sends an unmistakable message to these kids that they don't matter."

Steele said the district lists the enrollment at the school as 29 students but that only eight to 10 show up regularly.

Calls and emails to school district spokesman Marin Trujillo were not returned Monday.

Steele said a lawsuit is the only way to remedy the situation.

"Staff tried for two years to talk with the district, and they got nowhere," Steele said.

The school consists of two trailers at 157 Ninth St.

The school has no regular math or science teacher, the suit alleges, and lacks support services expected for a school that serves some of the most at-risk students. Students must be escorted to the nearby Gompers Continuation High School to use the restrooms, Steele said.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.