School District Addresses Response To Discovery Of Heroin At Chester County School
By Jan Carabeo
COATESVILLE, Pa., (CBS) — It’s taken nearly two weeks, but finally the Coatesville Area School District is opening up about its response to the discovery of heroin at Caln Elementary School.
Through an internal investigation conducted by the district’s own solicitor, the investigation found failures by school administrators and staff.
Some though were hoping the board would take more responsibility.
“When you are a school board, you need to say that the buck stops with me,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.
Hogan has been especially critical of the Coatesville Area School District over the past couple of weeks after a first grader was found with heroin at Caln Elementary School (See Previous Story).
Wednesday the District’s Board of School Directors admitted there were multiple failures in the school’s response.
“There was a failure to conduct a complete search of our students,” Board Member Deborah Thompson said. “There was a failure to timely identify the foreign substance as heroin.”
Thompson also said, “There was a complete failure in communication.”
A long list of shortcomings — the biggest they say by school administrators who didn’t inform the superintendent or other district leaders about the incident until nine hours after the drugs were found.
“Their actions did not meet the expected standards of safety for our children and their families,” Thompson said.
Yet the board says there isn’t a policy in place that directs staff to call the superintendent when drugs are discovered.
And the district solicitor says there isn’t a policy that requires the school to call 911.
“One of the options that could have been selected was contacting 911 first and then contacting school police,” School District Solicitor James Ellison said.
The District is now reviewing its policies and new procedures could soon be put into place.
Right now the school’s administration is required to call school police, who in turn, call local law enforcement.
“When you’ve got a 7-year-old with heroin in a school you need to call 911,” the District Attorney said.
Now the district did not say when new policies would be in place. The solicitor says the discussion will happen over the next couple of days. As for disciplinary action, the district says it is a possibility.