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Mom criticizes Richmond Schools' response to alleged preschool bathroom assault: 'Nothing is being done'

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- For the second time, Shayla Roberts went before the Richmond School Board pleading for help regarding a serious incident that she said involved her daughter at a Richmond preschool.

“I need answers. I need action done," Roberts told the board Monday night. “It's getting to a point where I keep coming to these meetings, after meeting, after meeting, after meeting, and nothing is done.”

Roberts first spoke at a school board meeting in February and said her 5-year-old daughter was assaulted in her private area inside a bathroom at Blackwell Preschool.

She said it happened in January, and at the time, she claimed the school didn't take her allegations seriously. Fast forward to March, she said she doesn't feel much differently.

“My daughter cannot go to the bathroom by herself. She is scared. The only option I'm given is to transfer to a different school. Okay, transfer her to a different school. She's still going to be scared of the bathroom. That's the issue right now," Roberts said.

Roberts has questioned whether supervision protocols were followed at the time of the alleged incident. She has also criticized how administrators handled the incident and the response that has followed.

“I have the protocol in my face, and what the principal didn't do is report it within 24 hours," Roberts said.

Richmond Public Schools spokesperson Lorena Arias said all employees are expected to report such allegations to appropriate authorities immediately. Asked if the Blackwell administration reported the allegation immediately in this case, Arias said it's unclear and is being investigated internally.

Asked if staff followed proper supervision protocols when the incident allegedly took place, she said that's also part of the investigation.

While other Blackwell parents have raised concerns about the response from school leadership, Arias said RPS is only communicating information with the parents of the children involved due to the "sensitive nature of the incident."

However, School Board Member Jonathan Young said he believes RPS has a "solemn obligation" to alert all families and teachers of the "tangible steps that the district is taking" to address what happened.

“I am not adequately satisfied relevant to the information that has been shared with me nor how we have addressed this most heinous situation," Young said.

He added it was "wrong and morally offensive" that Roberts had to come before the School Board in order to have her voice heard, and he encouraged the board to "drop everything" to respond to her concerns.

“RPS is not safe for students nor our teachers, and it’s surely not safe for our most vulnerable," Young said. "We are just not adequately providing safety."

School Board Member Dr. Shonda Harris-Muhammed said the board has received some updates from the district administration but is still awaiting a final report from Superintendent Jason Kamras.

"At that time, as a school board representative, I will share my concerns," Harris-Muhammed said.

Richmond Police has finished its investigation into the incident but has not responded to CBS 6's further questions about the findings. The investigation was turned over to the office of Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin. McEachin said her office declined prosecution due to the ages of the children involved.

Roberts told the school board she wanted to see them take action on this issue by Friday.

“I cannot take it no more. I'm done being calm because I feel like no one is respecting me as a mother," Roberts said.

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