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Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Chief Judge Cary Payne: #JusticeforKayleb: Drop the unjust felony charge against 11 year old Kayleb Moon-Robinson!

July 29, 2016

Virginia 6th grader Kayleb Moon-Robinson has been grossly mistreated by his school district and by the juvenile justice system. Robinson, who is on the autism spectrum and was 11 years old at the time , was charged this fall by a police officer who worked on campus and  convicted of a misdeamonor for “disorderly conduct”   for the mere act of kicking a trash can during a meltdown at school. When the same officer grabbed Kayleb to forcibly bring him to the principal’s office after a minor infraction a few weeks later, Kayleb resisted by pushing the officer away- and was arrested.  “He grabbed me and tried to take me to the office,” said Kayleb in an article written by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI). “I started pushing him away. He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”
More disturbingly, in addition to the misdemeanor Kayleb has also been convicted of a felony for “assault against a police officer.” This felony will negatively impact Kayleb’s ability to obtain jobs, housing, and other opportunities in the future. Kayleb, a boy of small stature who wears glasses, was unarmed, posed no threat to the officer, and does not deserve to have his life ruined because he has a disability.
“The school and the officer clearly do not have appropriate knowledge of how to support an Autistic child, ” says Lei Wiley-Mydske, Autistic activist and co-creator of this petition, of Kayleb’s case. “If they did, they would know that behavior is communication. Yet, instead of them being held accountable for lack of support, Kayleb is being punished for his reactions and frustration to the injustices committed against him. This is a felony charge against an 11 year old child. This is NOT justice.”
Kayleb’s mother, Stacey, fears that if she appeals the ruling and loses, state law may require that the felony remain in court files permanently. Herself the daughter of a police officer, Stacy was horrified at what happened to her son: “Kayleb is 11. He is autistic. He doesn’t fully understand how to differentiate the roles of certain people.”
There is clearly something wrong here. “US Department of Education data show that Virginia schools in a single year referred students to law enforcement agencies at a rate nearly three times the national rate. Virginia’s referral rate: about 16 for every 1,000 students, compared to a national rate of six referrals for every 1,000 students. In Virginia, some of the individual schools with highest rates of referral — in one case 228 per 1,000 — were middle schools, whose students are usually from 11 to 14 years old.” (Center for Public Integrity)
I am a mother, and I share Kayleb’s diagnosis as do two of my children. I have other children with disabilities as well. People with disabilities, especially if they are people of color like Kayleb and like my family, are at high risk of being a victim of injustice and/or violence at the hands of authority figures, including police. Despite the many good cops that exist, there is a pervasive culture of discrimination and inequality in our society that manifests itself in the form of ableism/disability prejudice, racism, sexism, and more. Nationally, schools disproportionately punish and refer disabled students and students of color to law enforcement. Kayleb is both Autistic and black.
Kayleb could have been my son. What happened to him is wrong.   Although Kayleb does not return to court in June 2015, the negative impact of what happened to him has already taken its toll. Kayleb is now enrolled in an alternative school. Also, his mother reports that h e is already being ostracized by others because of this situation: “They’ve talked about how he’s a criminal, how he’s been arrested.”
“Why is a child being punished for not being supported? This 11 year old has charged and convicted of a felony because the adults around him did not understand and accommodate his needs, ” asserts Lei Wiley-Mydske. 
Kayleb deserves another chance. He should not be punished for exhibiting signs of his disability. Being black and autistic is NOT a crime. We must rally now to offer support and show that we are willing to call out the racism and ableism that is so obviously at play here.
The convictions against Kayleb should be rescinded and he should be pardoned. He needs support, not a record.
Kayleb’s family, Lei, and I implore you to sign and share this petition widely. Together we can achieve #JusticeForKayleb !!!
(Photo credit: Charlie Archambault/Center for Public Integrity)



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