The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is pleased that the Commonwealth of Virginia has dismissed all charges against Autistic middle school student Kayleb Moon-Robinson. Last year, when he was in sixth grade, Kayleb was wrongfully arrested and faced with criminal charges for walking into the school hallway and struggling when grabbed by a school resource officer. ASAN opposes discriminatory prosecution of autistic children of color and is gratified that the Virginia courts have given Kayleb’s case a fair hearing and made the right decision.
Kayleb’s case is representative of a systemic problem in the state of Virginia and across the country. Students with disabilities, particularly young students of color, are reported to law enforcement authorities at higher and higher rates for what should be school disciplinary matters in what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. ASAN, like a number of other racial and disability rights organizations, believe that this trend often deprives children with disabilities, like Kayleb, of their right to a free and appropriate public education.
In April 2015, ASAN issued a statement condemning an initial court decision against Kayleb and supported a petition asking that the charges be dropped. ASAN joined the petition’s sponsor, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, as well as Kayleb and his mother, to deliver the petition in advance of Kayleb’s court date in August 2015. Although the initial court decision was favorable, charges were not officially dropped until today. ASAN later presented its annual self-advocacy award to Ms. Onaiwu in recognition of her efforts bringing attention to Kayleb’s case and others.
Although the ruling in Kayleb’s case is an encouraging first step towards better outcomes for these children, ASAN plans to continue its advocacy for cultural and legal changes that will end discrimination against autistic children, especially children of color.
We particularly thank all of Kayleb’s supporters in the Autistic community, the advocates at Change.org, and the broader disability rights community for the towards justice for Kayleb and his family. The ruling in Kayleb’s case comes after nearly a year of disability community advocacy. Your efforts have not been in vain, and our voices have been heard.