Mother, school board member slam RPS for lack of action in alleged sexual assault of preschooler

A Richmond mother who pleaded for help last month after she says her five-year-old was sexually assaulted at school is once again demanding action.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond mother, who pleaded for help last month after she says her five-year-old was sexually assaulted at school, is once again demanding action.

That mother, Shayla Roberts, made another emotional plea before the school board Monday night. Now, one of those leaders is telling 12 On Your Side that he thinks the school system failed her.

Roberts says her daughter was assaulted by another 5-year-old child at Blackwell Preschool in late January and remains deeply traumatized.

“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 at Monday night’s school board meeting. “My daughter cannot go to the bathroom by herself. She is scared. The only option is to transfer her to a different school.”

This is not the first time she’s stood before the school board demanding that RPS fire the preschool’s principal for the way she says her daughter’s situation was handled.

“It’s getting to a point where I keep coming to these meetings, after meeting, after meeting, after meeting and nothing is done,” Roberts continued.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney says she has the police report on her desk but wouldn’t comment further.

Both RPS and Richmond police are staying quiet about the investigation, given the ages of the students involved.

Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young is taking a stance, saying the mother deserves answers, as does every other Blackwell parent.

“I’m going to be really blunt... the truth is, it’s my concern, and this is tragically not anything new, that Richmond Public Schools is not a safe place for our students,” Young said. “My colleagues and I on this school board are failing as it relates to protecting our students and keeping them safe in Richmond Public Schools.”

Young says he first learned of the assault during a school board meeting last month when Roberts spoke out. He says he was shocked he had to learn from a distressed mother rather than from school officials.

“If elected members of the school board, representatives of the community responsible for managing the school district, are not briefed on what I would characterize as the worst thing that I’ve heard all school year and probably in a long time, then what do we expect for our other stakeholders?” Young said.

RPS says due to the sensitive nature of it and the fact that it involves minors, only the parents of those students involved were notified.

Roberts has since pulled her daughter out of Blackwell Preschool.