The Daily Caller

Parents Sue School Board After School Suspends Student For Saying ‘Illegal Aliens’

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 allegedly violating McGhee’s “rights to free speech, education, and due process.” The lawsuit argues that not only was there allegedly no basis for the teen’s suspension due to the protection of the First Amendment, but that the infraction on McGhee’s academic record should also be removed.

“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,” Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center Buck Dougherty alleged in the release.

“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,” he further alleged.

In early April, McGhee was suspended for three days from Central Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina, the press release reads. The 16-year-old had been in an English class working on a vocabulary assignment when he raised his hand to ask the teacher whether her reference to the word “aliens” was alluding to “space aliens, or illegal aliens who need green cards?”

The question allegedly offended another student in the classroom who allegedly said he wanted to fight McGhee, triggering the teacher to call the assistant principal, according to The Carolina Journal. The word was then allegedly deemed as offensive and disrespectful to Hispanic classmates by school administrators, the outlet reported.

McGhee’s mother, Leah, later alleged during an exclusive interview with Louder with Crowder that she believed the assistant principal was the one who “insinuated racism.” She claimed the boy who allegedly took offense later stated he was “joking.”

“I didn’t make a statement directed towards anyone; I asked a question,” McGhee told The Carolina Journal in response to the punishment. “I wasn’t speaking of Hispanics because everyone from other countries needs green cards, and the term ‘illegal alien’ is an actual term that I hear on the news and can find in the dictionary.”

During an interview with the Daily Caller lead attorney on the case Dean McGee echoed Leah’s claims, stating after “thoroughly” speaking with McGhee and his mother the group believes that the school “pushed the narrative” against the 16-year-old rather than his classmates. McGee continued to state that the group believes they not only have a “strong” case to clear McGhee’s record, but will also be asking for damages.

“W think we’ve got a strong case under the First Amendment for free speech. We’ve got a strong case under the 14th Amendment for due process. They wouldn’t even let him [Christian] appeal this suspension, the branding of racism. So we think we have a strong case. We think the court should actually clear Christian’s record and we’re going to ask for damages,” McGee alleged.

McGee noted the “chilling effect” cases like McGhee’s could have as he referenced the attempted punishment from schools after students protested the Vietnam War in 1965.

“The Supreme Court said very clearly, students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate and we’re trying to remind students of that. They should not go into school, hearing that they’re going to be punished for innocent speech,” McGee told the Caller.

After returning to school from his suspension, McGhee allegedly faced “ostracism, bullying, and threats,” according to the press release. Consequently, McGhee’s parents feared for his safety and removed him from Central Davidson High School, placing him into a homeschooling program for the remainder of the semester instead.

“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,” Leah alleged to the LJC, the press release reads.

Since the filing of the lawsuit Monday morning, McGee told the Caller that the board is expected to be served promptly.

The Daily Caller has reached out to the Davidson County Board of Education for a comment.