U.S.

Florida Woman Arrested For Neglect After School Employee Reports Poor Hygiene, Infestation Of Bugs In Child's Backpack

A Florida woman was arrested and charged with five counts of child neglect after an employee at the elementary school three of her children attend contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, 33-year-old Jessica Stevenson is the mother of five children ages 5 to 17, and employees at Bagdad Elementary School noted the poor hygiene of Stevenson's three children who attend the school.

The DCF report stated that a second-grader in the family had worn the same clothing to school for an entire week and that the student's body odor was very strong. When asked about the time of their last bath, the student said they did not know when it had been.

Jessica Stevenson Jessica Stevenson has been charged with five counts of child neglect after an employee at the elementary school where three of her five children attend reported the case to local authorities. Upon inspection, the house was determined to be unclean with an infestation of roaches and no edible food, a Florida Department of Children and Families report said. Santa Rosa County Jail

The employee then reportedly gave the student another outfit and took the old one, discovering that it was heavily soiled with dirt, feces and urine. In another instance, "hundreds of bugs" crawled out of the child's backpack while they were in the lunchroom and the student said the family's home was covered in roaches.

A teacher also told the DCF that she knew one of the children had been given new outfits by the school on several occasions and that each time the outfit would be worn continously until it was worn out and the child was issued another set of clothing.

The teacher also described the child as depressed and often in tears. It was unclear if the child was the second-grader or another sibling.

An investigation into the family's home life was opened on April 18 by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office, the Journal said. A visit from deputies to the home revealed that the residence was "filthy," the Orlando Sentinel said.

According to the Journal, the home was infested with roaches that were crawling on the beds of the children, in pots and pans and inside the fridge and cabinets. The only food in the home was spoiled milk and eggs, some sugar and a stick of butter.

The Sentinel included other details from the arrest report on the state of the home, including piles of cat feces, bags of trash throughout the home and broken windows. However, Stevenson's room was reportedly clean and included fresh bed linens, a flat screen television and a closet full of laundered clothing.

Stevenson was arrested on May 3 and issued a bond of $12,500, which was paid the following day. However, she has been ordered to have no contact with her children, WEAR-TV reports.

Speaking to WEAR, Stevenson disputed the charges made by the Santa Rosa police, saying she has not neglected her children.

"I'm not a bad mom, I do everything I can. I work hard,” Stevenson said, also telling the television station that she thinks the police and DCF are targeting her.

Stevenson admitted that the home has a roach problem and needs cleaning but that it is difficult as she is a single mother and has a low income.

"It's not easy when you're one person and five kids. I want to do better and I'm trying,” Stevenson told WEAR.

Stevenson could face up to 25 years in prison if she's found guilty of the child neglect charges, though the State Attorney's office told WEAR that it would be unlikely she would serve the full sentence. Stevenson said she is considering a lawsuit against the sheriff's office and the school district.

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