TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida woman was arrested last week after her daughter’s school found “hundreds of bugs” in the girl’s backpack, prompting the Florida Department of Children and Families to visit their home, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
Jessica Stevenson, 33, of Milton, was arrested on five counts of child neglect without causing great bodily harm.
The DCF conducted a wellness check at her home after Bagdad Elementary School staff member made a report concerning three siblings who attended the elementary school, according to an affidavit.
The employee noted that her second-grade daughter had been wearing the same clothing for a week. When asked when her last bath had been, the student said she did not know, authorities said.
On one occasion, “hundreds of bugs crawled out” of the student’s “backpack in the lunchroom,” the report stated.
A teacher said the school had repeatedly given the girl clean clothing, but each new outfit would be worn continuously until it was worn out and another outfit would be provided by the school.
The teacher also noted that the girl was frequently crying, “having meltdowns” and seemed depressed, the report stated.
The girl has four other siblings between the ages of 5 and 14, two of which attend Bagdad Elementary School.
When deputies visited Stevenson’s home, they discovered an infestation of roaches, broken windows and bags of trash throughout the home and yard.
“The roaches were on nearly every surface in the home” including “on the children’s mattress, in the pots and pans in the kitchen, and inside the cabinets/fridge,” the report stated.
There was no edible food inside of the home. The cabinets were empty of food and the refrigerator had two cartons of spoiled milk, spoiled eggs, sugar and a stick of butter.
Stevenson’s bedroom, however, was “abnormally” clean with minimal roaches and a stashed bag of snacks, according to the report.
Stevenson was charged with five felony counts of child neglect without great bodily harm and booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail Friday. She was released Saturday on a $2,500 bond.
In an interview with Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR, the mother disputed the report, claiming she had been targeted “unfairly.”
“I’m not a bad mom, I do everything I can. I work hard,” Stevenson told Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR on Tuesday. “They just made it harder for me.”
Stevenson said she was given a no-contact order for her children, which have been temporarily removed from her care.
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