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School employees accused of assaulting children with disabilities

National

2 former FCPS staff are accused of abuse, one former principal indicted with failure to report the abuse

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Two now former employees of Fairfax County Public Schools are accused of assaulting at least six children with intellectual disabilities at an elementary school in Vienna, Virginia. A third former employee is accused of failing to report.

The school’s former principal, 39-year-old Scott Bloom of Reston, was indicted Monday on failure to report the abuse, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said.

Cecilia Maria Benavides
Cylmeera Gastav
Scott Bloom

Cylmeera Gastav, 48 of Herndon was charged Monday with one felony count of cruelty and injuries to children and three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery. Cecilia Maria Benavides, 59, of Alexandria, was charged Monday with one felony count of cruelty and injuries to children and 12 counts of misdemeanor assault and battery. The two worked as support staff in a special education classroom at Freedom Hill Elementary School.

Bloom was the principal prior to September 2019, and has been with FCPS since 2012, according to the school system. He became the principal of Haycock Elementary School and was placed on leave in September this year. According to police investigation, The incidents happened between April and September 2019 and Bloom allegedly failed to report Child Protective Services or the police.

A total of six children were abused, according to police investigation. The abuse included assault and battery and cruelty to children and was reported by a teacher in September.

The abuse was observed, reported and acted upon immediately in mid-September by the new Freedom Hill principal and administrative staff, according to FCPS Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith. But police say abuse happened prior to this while Bloom was principal, and he allegedly failed to report it.

At this point in the investigation, police believe they have identified all the victims relevant in this case, but encourage potential witnesses to reach out if they have more information.

Smith said FCPS is committed to doing all they can to prevent similar incidents in the future and said it is a misdemeanor not to report abuse. FCPS knew of the allegations in September and immediately placed the employees on leave.

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