12 Investigates: Push for hate crime charges in school lawsuit - WSMV Channel 4

12 Investigates: Push for hate crime charges in school lawsuit case

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

We are learning about a push for criminal charges against some local teachers. This is just the latest development in a $20 million lawsuit against several school districts, including Chesterfield and Henrico. 

The suit alleges the civil rights of children with specials needs are being violated. Some families are now starting to speak out.

7-year-old Xavier Hilton is a happy little boy who happens to have autism. 

"His education and skill set level is obviously not that of a 7-year-old," said mom Kia Moore.  

She and Xavier are spending a lot of time together this summer. She claims Xavier was kicked out of his summer school special needs program after just one week in the class. 

"I don't expect to be given the runaround," said Moore. "I surely do not expect my child to be thrown to the curb like a piece of trash just because you are not equipped as a system to handle his issues."

Moore was shocked to hear that local school systems including Chesterfield and Henrico have been slapped with a $20 million lawsuit for allegedly violating the rights of children with disabilities.

"I was like wow," said Moore. "This is much bigger than just Xavier Hilton." 

Examples listed in the suit include an incident at Sandston Elementary School in Henrico where a child was allegedly locked in a small room as discipline for a disability-related emotional outburst.

"We want the district prosecuted for hate crimes against children with disabilities," said school activist Kandise Lucas. "We're not going to rest until something is done." 

Attorneys have even sent notice to U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and the Office for Civil Rights. Could school teachers and administrators actually face criminal charges? 

"Virginia law is very clear that teachers are among those category of people with temporary custody of children who's willful conduct, if it's so dangerous that it endangers the child," said NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "Yes. They can be prosecuted for the crime of child abuse."

"And it should matter to society as a whole because these are children that could potentially be engrafted into our society without the skills they need to actually succeed in society," said Moore. "That is what is really bothering me."

20 families are listed in this suit. We are told at least 30 more families have contacted the attorney bringing this suit in the last few weeks. 

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