Tuesday, May 21

North Carolina student sues school board after suspension for using the term ‘illegal alien’

A 16-year-old North Carolina student suspended for using the term “illegal alien” in class is officially taking legal action against the school district for “harsh punishment” and “false accusations of racism.”

According to the student’s mother, Leah McGhee, in April, an English teacher at Central Davidson High School in Lexington gave a vocabulary assignment that involved the word “alien.” In response, her son Christian asked if the teacher meant “like space aliens or illegal aliens without green cards?”

Another student allegedly took offense to the term and threatened to fight Christian, forcing the teacher to contact the assistant principal. The staff later deemed the term to be offensive to Hispanic students and punished Christian with a three-day suspension.

After the story went viral, the Liberty Justice Center announced Tuesday that they would be representing McGhee in a lawsuit against the Davidson County Board of Education.

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“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 said in a statement. “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.”

According to the attorneys, Christian was prohibited from taking part in a track meet and faced bullying and threats at his school. His parents eventually unenrolled him, and he is completing his semester in a homeschooling program.

Notably, the lawsuit says, the student who allegedly took offense to Christian’s question clarified that he was not actually upset or offended by the term. The lawsuit also cited, “a School administrator’s assertion that harsh punishment was necessary to avoid being ‘unfair’ to students who received the same punishment ‘for saying the N word’—a preposterous comparison.”

“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,” educational freedom attorney at the Liberty Justice Center Dean McGee said.

The lawsuit is calling for the school board to reverse and remove the suspension, along with the claim that he used “racially” motivated language in class, from his record. The family is also seeking a public apology and monetary damages to be determined at the trial.

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In a comment via the Liberty Justice Center, Leah McGhee said, “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.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Davidson County Board of Education for a comment.

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