The Liberty Justice Center Moves to Clear Record of Student Suspended for Saying “Illegal Alien”: New Evidence Released, Including Recording of Meeting

June 4, 2024

On June 4, the Liberty Justice Center filed a preliminary injunction to clear the academic record of a North Carolina student who was accused of racism and wrongfully suspended—for saying the phrase “illegal aliens.”

On April 9, sophomore Christian McGhee raised his hand in English class to ask his teacher whether her reference to the word “aliens” referred to “space aliens, or illegal aliens who need green cards?” Later that day, the school suspended Christian, alleging that his genuine question was equivalent to a vicious racial slur. The Liberty Justice Center is suing the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of Christian and his family, arguing that the school board’s actions violated Christian’s right to free speech, education, and due process.

In today’s filing, the Liberty Justice Center urges the court to order the school to reverse Christian’s wrongful suspension and remove it from his academic record. The filing also traces the history of the term ‘aliens’ in U.S. law, demonstrating that it traces back to laws Congress passed in 1798 concerning white European immigrants, not racial minorities.

The motion for a preliminary injunction also releases new information about the case, including excerpts of a recording of a school administrator’s meeting with the McGhees—where the administrator equated the phrase “illegal alien” to “the n-word,” told Leah McGhee that it would have been “more respectful” for Christian to say “those people that need a green card,” and faulted Christian’s teacher for “being so young and female.” Consistent with court rules, minors’ names have been censored in the excerpts, which are available to the press and the public here.

In addition to the recording, today’s legal filing also submits as evidence a series of defamatory and misleading texts by Davidson County School Board members, which were sent to members of the community in an effort to malign Christian and his family.

“The Davidson County School Board has not only invented a racial incident out of thin air, but then gone on to violate a student’s rights to free speech and due process to punish him for that invented incident. What we have here is an administration that refuses to admit its wrongdoing, and a kid caught in the crossfire,” said Buck Dougherty, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “We are proud to stand with Christian and his family, and urge the court to order the removal of this wrongful suspension from Christian’s record.”

The Liberty Justice Center’s legal filings in C.M. v. Davidson County Board of Education are available here.


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