Woman accused of paying CMS students $5, swabbing cheeks appears in court

CHARLOTTE — The woman accused of paying Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students for cheek swabs made her first court appearance Wednesday.

Since Channel 9 first started investigating back in February 2022, many people have contacted us wondering why investigators said Raina McManus was conducting the tests. One mother came to the courthouse, desperate for answers.

McManus is accused of paying students $5 to swab their cheeks at Ridge Road Middle School and calling it a COVID-19 test.

Right now, McManus faces two misdemeanor charges -- solicitation during school hours and private use of a publicly owned vehicle.

She was working as a CMS bus driver until the district suspended her in February and then fired her a month later. Then, police arrested her in April.

The warrant makes it clear that McManus didn’t have permission, saying she “did not have prior approval from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the principal of the school where this happened, or the student guardian.”

Shaniqua Davis claims McManus told her daughter the cheek swab was a COVID-19 test. She has since pulled her daughter out of CMS.

“My heart dropped because I just knew that something wasn’t right,” she said. “She took advantage of the position she was in, where she was held as somebody that was supposed to be trusted.”


While McManus was employed by the district, Channel 9 learned McManus also worked for the National Institute of Molecular Diagnostics. It’s the same company accused of swabbing people outside a Charlotte homeless shelter around the same time frame.

The agency told us last spring McManus wasn’t working within the scope of the company, and also said that the cheek swabs were destroyed.

Davis said she still wants answers.

“With no real answers, we don’t know what our children’s DNA was collected for, we don’t know what it’s being used for,” she said.

Due to the nature of McManus’ first appearance, many of the details are confidential. Channel 9 is working to learn how she pleaded.

Return to this story for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Action 9 learns about scam with similarities to alleged cheek swabbing incident)