A Chester County woman was arrested after police say her 7-year-old grandson brought heroin to his elementary school and distributed it to at least one other child.
Pauline Bilinski-Munion was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of children and other related drug charges.
On Friday, police say Munion’s grandson went to his first grade class at Caln Elementary School in Thorndale, Pennsylvania. After a teacher at the school overheard that one of the students had drugs, teachers spoke to the boy and found nine bags of heroin in his pants pocket, according to investigators.
Police say the heroin was stamped “Victoria Secret.” The boy told police he found the drugs in the school yard but later admitted that he brought the drugs from his home, according to officials. The drugs were later turned over to the Coatesville Area School District police.
Officials say the CASD solicitor, James Ellison, put out a notice to parents warning that a “dangerous and illegal” substance was found in the grass at recess and that parents should check to see if their children had any of the substance. The notice also suggested that parents might want to take their children to the emergency room for an evaluation, according to investigators.
Officials with the District Attorney’s Office say they found out about the incident on Saturday through media reports. Chester County detectives were then assigned by District Attorney Tom Hogan to conduct an emergency investigation.
Detectives interviewed the boy along with his relatives. Investigators say the boy normally stays with his aunt in Coatesville but recently had been living with his mother, father, and grandfather at Woodland Avenue in Modena, Pennsylvania. The boy told police he found the drugs on the floor by a washing machine at the home.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the Modena home Saturday night and found several heroin bags inside, including one empty bag in a pair of children’s shorts, according to investigators. Police say no one was home at the time.
Police say they also found another 7-year-old student from Caln Elementary School who had been in contact with the boy. The student’s mother told detectives that she found her son in possession of a heroin bag labeled “Victoria Secret.” The student claimed that Munion’s grandson gave him the drugs.
On Sunday, detectives found Munion along with the boy’s mother and father. Based on interviews, investigators determined that Munion, an alleged heroin user, was babysitting her grandson as well as a 1-year-old baby at the Modena home back on May 1. Munion allegedly brought heroin into the house but lost track of it. Her 7-year-old grandson later found the drugs and brought it to Caln Elementary on Friday, according to investigators.
Munion was arrested and remanded to Chester County Prison after failing to post $25,000 cash bail.
District Attorney Tom Hogan criticized the Coatesville Area School District’s initial response to the incident.
“CASD and the CASD Solicitor utterly failed to handle this incident correctly both from a student safety and law enforcement perspective,” Hogan said. “From a student safety perspective, heroin loose in a grade school is a major emergency. CASD should have immediately called 911 and brought in emergency and police personnel to check on the physical condition of the children and make sure none of the other children had been given heroin. A late and vague notification to parents about a ‘dangerous and illegal’ substance is too little and too late. From a law enforcement perspective, CASD’s Solicitor should have immediately notified the District Attorney’s Office. CASD’s notification to the parents was inadequate to help the children, but served to tip-off the defendant, putting the investigation at risk. It was only through the outstanding efforts of the Chester County Detectives that this crime was solved. CASD and its Solicitor completely failed in their duty to protect the children in their care. CASD should be ashamed and the parents of these children should be outraged.”
Ellison told NBC10 that school district officials contacted the Caln, South Coatesville and Coatesville police departments. According to Ellison, the district’s expectation is that once they contact law enforcement, police will handle the investigation from there and presumably contact the District Attorney’s Office.