Pauline Bilinski-Munion, 56, of Modena was arrested Sunday following a weekend investigation by Chester County detectives, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Monday morning.
“Heroin in an elementary school is a nightmare," Hogan said. "Any exposure to heroin for a young child is likely to result in death. The defendant is lucky that she was not responsible for the death of her own grandson or somebody else’s child.”The boy, 7, was discovered by his first-grade teacher at Caln Elementary School with nine bags of heroin in his pants pocket, the District Attorney's Office said. The boy's name has not been released by authorities.
The heroin was in bags marked "Victoria's Secret."
The teacher turned the bags over to the Coatesville Area School District Police, who failed to notify the District Attorney's Office. Instead, the DA's Office said, The CASD solicitor, James Ellison, issued a statement to parents that a "dangerous and illegal" substance had been found at the school, and suggested parents check for any such substance and take their children to the emergency room if warranted.
The Chester County District Attorney's Office did not learn of the incident until it was reported by media outlets on Saturday.
Hogan had harsh words for the Coatesville Area School District on Monday morning.
“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.”
Chester County Detective said the boy, who normally lives in Coatesville with an aunt, was staying with his grandmother, a known heroin user, in Modena, when she brought a quantity of heroin into the house and lost track of it.
The boy discovered the packets on the laundry room floor and brought them to school, the DA's Office said.
The boy gave a bag of heroin to at least one classmate, the DA's Office said. Another 7-year-old boy was at the Exton Square Mall when his mother found he had a bag of heroin stamped "Victoria's Secret."
Bilinski-Munion is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and various drug offenses. She failed to post bail of $25,000 and was remanded to Chester County Prison.
The case is being investigated by Chester County Detectives Joe Nangle, Kristin Lund and Robert Balchunis, and prosecuted by Christopher deBarrena-Sarobe.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Chester County Detectives at 610-344-6866.