Case

C.M. v. Davidson County Board of Education

The Liberty Justice Center is suing the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of a sixteen-year-old student whose question about the word “aliens” in English class led to a harsh suspension and false accusations of racism by his own school.

On May 7, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of Christian McGhee, a sixteen-year-old student whose question about the word “aliens” in English class led to a harsh suspension and false accusations of racism by his own school.

On April 9, sophomore Christian McGhee raised his hand and asked his English teacher whether her reference to the word “aliens” referred to “space aliens, or illegal aliens who need green cards?” Although there was no substantial disruption to the class, the school decided to suspend Christian for three days out of school, with the administration equating his question to a vicious racial slur. Christian was also prohibited from competing in a season-defining track meet. No appeal was permitted.

Having been branded as a racist by his school, Christian’s return was met with ostracism, bullying, and threats. Concerned for his safety, his parents unenrolled him and he is now completing the semester through a homeschooling program.

The Liberty Justice Center is suing the school board on behalf of Christian and his family for violating his rights to free speech, education, and due process. The lawsuit argues that the school board had no legal justification to suspend Christian because his comment was protected speech under the First Amendment. The lawsuit also seeks to remove the suspension from Christian’s academic record.

“Even though Christian asked a factual, non-threatening question—about a word the class was discussing—the school board branded him with false accusations of racism,” said Buck Dougherty, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “The school has not only violated his constitutional right to free speech, but also his right to due process and his right to access education, a guaranteed right under North Carolina law. We are proud to stand beside Christian and his family in challenging this egregious violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

“School officials have effectively fabricated a racial incident out of thin air and branded our client as a racist without even giving him an opportunity to appeal. Fortunately, young people do not shed their First Amendment rights at school, and we look forward to vindicating Christian’s rights here.” said Dean McGee, Educational Freedom Attorney at the Liberty Justice Center.

“I have raised our son to reject racism in all its forms, but it is the school, not Christian, that injected race into this incident. It appears that this administration would rather destroy its own reputation and the reputation of my son rather than admit they made a mistake,” said Leah McGhee, Christian’s mother.

C.M. v. Davidson County Board of Education was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on May 7, 2024.

Attorneys

Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where he litigates in trial and appellate courts on behalf of everyday citizens in order to protect their civil liberties and preserve their constitutional rights.

Dean McGee

Dean McGee is Liberty Justice Center’s Educational Freedom Attorney, where he focuses on empowering parents and students to choose the educational path that best meets their needs.

Case Press Releases

Case In The News

Winston-Salem Journal
May 12, 2024

(Winston-Salem Journal)—16-year-old former student at Central Davidson High School in Lexington and his parents are suing Davidson County school officials for suspending him for three days in April. School officials took action for what they described as the student making a racially insensitive remark in a classroom, according to the...

The Lion
May 10, 2024

(The Lion)—A 10th-grade student’s family has filed a lawsuit against a North Carolina school district after it suspended him for using the term “illegal alien” in class. The student, 16-year-old Christian McGhee, had raised his hand in class to ask whether the term “alien” being used by the teacher referred...

American Family News
May 10, 2024

(American Family News)—Dean McGee says Liberty Justice Center is suing the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of 16-year-old Davidson High School student Christian McGhee. “Last month during English class, there was a discussion about the word aliens,” the attorney explains. “Christian raised his hand and asked, ‘Are you...

The National Desk
May 9, 2024

(The National Desk)—North Carolina school officials are being accused of violating a student’s constitutional rights after suspending him for saying the words “illegal aliens” in class. The Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit this week against the Davidson County Board of Education in Lexington, North Carolina, on behalf of a...

The Daily Caller
May 7, 2024

(The Daily Caller)—The Liberty Justice Center (LJC) filed a lawsuit against the Davidson County Board of Education Tuesday on behalf of 16-year-old Christian McGhee, who was suspended after using the term “illegal aliens” in class. A press statement released by the LJC calls out the North Carolina school board for...

Todd Starnes Show
May 7, 2024

(Todd Starnes Show)—On an interview on the Todd Starnes Show, the Liberty Justice Center’s Educational Freedom Attorney Dean McGee discusses a new lawsuit against a North Carolina school that suspended a student for saying “illegal alien” in class. The Liberty Justice Center is suing the Davidson County Board of Education...

OutKick
May 7, 2024

(OutKick)—Merriam-Webster still has no problem with defining the word “aliens,” and one maligned North Carolina teen is trusting a judge won’t either. Lawyers for Christian McGhee on Tuesday sued the Davidson County School District after the boy was suspended and subjected to racism accusations for asking a question in English...

Tampa Free Press
May 7, 2024

(Tampa Free Press)—The Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of Christian McGhee, a sixteen-year-old student whose concern regarding the phrase “aliens” in English class resulted in harsh punishment and bogus claims of racism from his own school. The lawsuit follows a...

The Center Square
May 7, 2024

(The Center Square)—North Carolina parents withdrew their teen from school and sued a school district it says unfairly issued a suspension and “injected race” into a question of clarification from an English teacher. The Davidson County School District Board of Education is the defendant sued by Christian McGhee, a 16-year-old...

The National Desk
May 7, 2024

(The National Desk)—A North Carolina family sued their local school board on Tuesday after their son was allegedly suspended for his use of the word “alien.” Central Davidson High School issued a three-day, out-of-school suspension to the 16-year-old student last month after he asked for clarification on a vocabulary assignment...

Case Documents

ABOUT

NAME

C.M. v. Davidson County Board of Education

FILED

May 7, 2024

COURT

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina

STATUS

Pending

Media

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