Mom: My 8-year-old was pepper sprayed by another student

The mother says the boy's lips were swollen after the incident. (Source: family photo)
The mother says the boy's lips were swollen after the incident. (Source: family photo)
Updated: Sep. 25, 2018 at 3:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The mother of a third-grader at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond says her son was pepper sprayed by another student during the school day and she wasn’t informed.

The incident allegedly happened on Monday, Sept. 17. According to Keyona Mottley, she rushed to the school to get her 8 and 6-year-old after warnings of tornadoes for the area. Typically, the children are picked up by daycare.

When Mottley arrived, she says, she she saw her son Whayon sitting in the cafeteria with his sister.

“His eyes were red and he was crying,” Mottley said. “And his face was looking a little red as well.”

He also had brown markings all over his white T-shirt. Mottley asked Whayon what happened.

“He explained to me that a little boy had maced him,” Mottley said.

According to Mottley, her son’s friend got mad at him after they stopped talking about a game, when he picked up a can of unattended pepper spray sitting on the cafeteria table and sprayed Whayon.

Mottley says she tried to get answers from the principal and her son’s teacher, but was ignored.

“The teacher said, 'Oh he got maced, I washed his mouth,” Mottley said. “I’m his mother and I’ve never got maced so I can imagine how an 8-year-old feels."

Mottley was also upset that her son was allegedly was never taken to the nurse. She also feels had she not had to go to the school to pick up her children because of the tornado warning, she wouldn’t have known about what happened because no one called her.

“I got to the principal and she was walking out of her office and I was saying ‘My son got maced!’ She looked at me strange and said something to the police officer there and told me to step back. When I stepped back I said, ‘My son got maced. Why wasn’t he taken to the nurse?’ She looked at him and asked if he wanted to go to the nurse at that moment and I said no I’m taking him to the hospital."

Mottley rushed her son to the emergency room.

“We found out it had burnt his skin. We had to give him steroid creams, lubricant eye drops and medicine for his stomach and Benadryl because he had an allergic reaction to the pepper spray,” Mottley said.

The next morning, Mottley took her son to her primary care doctor too because he was still suffering. Later that day, she brought him back to school to try and find more answers. She spoke to her son’s teacher.

“She had explained to me her 19-year-old son left a mace can on the table and that’s how the student got the mace to spray my son,” Mottley said. “And I’m trying to figure out why her 19-year-old son was at school with my 8-year-old during lunch time and no one cared to call me.”

Mottley said another student was sprayed too.

According to Mottley, no teachers involved were punished for what happened and the child who allegedly pepper sprayed her son is still in school and was not disciplined.

“It hurts my feelings because I don’t send my kids to school to get bullied or picked on or pepper sprayed or hurt,” Mottley said. “All I can do is take them to the doctor and fight for them.”

Richmond City School District released this statement about the incident:

RPS administration is aware of this incident and has launched a full investigation into the matter. The mother can rest assured that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken following the outcome of the investigation. Our goal is to always provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for all student so we deeply regret that this happened to him.

Mottley says a few days after the incident, the principal did offer to pay for the child’s medical bills but she says she doesn’t need the money as insurance covered it.

She says what she does want is for the school to acknowledge what happened and hold those accountable who were involved.

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