MEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Parents and city officials in Medford expressed outrage as they told the superintendent how they felt about a decision not to report the discovery of a loaded gun magazine found in McGlynn K-8 School’s auditorium.
Police and K-9 teams from Medford and surrounding communities swept through the city school Thursday, seven weeks after the magazine was found under a seat in the theater of a building that houses middle and elementary school students.
Police said the search was conducted as a precaution. Authorities searched the elementary and middle schools earlier in the week. No weapons were found.
Medford Superintendent Roy Belson said a professional cleaning crew found the loaded magazine back on Dec. 29. The crew reportedly turned the magazine over to an in-house custodian. That custodian then locked the clip away in the principal’s office.
Principal Jake Edwards said he may have thrown away the clip while cleaning out his office. The discovery was never reported to police until nearly two months after the fact, outraging parents when they found out.
On Thursday, a disappointed Mayor Stephanie Burke announced Edwards was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations.
“I’m putting him on administrative leave for the lack of action after knowing about a clip, knowing that a clip somehow disappeared and no action was taken subsequent to that. That’s under his job description to maintain safety in that building,” said Burke.
City Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said she was notified about the magazine last Thursday by school personnel, who were unnerved by the fatal school shooting at a Florida high school. She notified police Friday. Lungo-Koehn believes Edwards and Belson should be fired.
Belson said he did not believe it presented a clear danger and did not report it to police, believing it was an “isolated incident.”
“The handling of a recent matter at the McGlynn Middle School put our entire community at grave risk,” said Burke. “I am both professionally and personally astounded that I was not informed immediately of the incident.”
At a meeting Thursday evening, furious parents demanded answers from school officials about why nothing was done when the magazine was found.
“Your actions did in fact endanger every student and every staff member that walked into that school, blissfully unaware at what you discovered,” said one angry parent.
Lungo-Koehn directly asked Belson at the meeting about an incident last Friday, when two fifth-graders allegedly threatened to shoot up the school. Parents gasped in shock as Lungo-Koehn demanded Belson tell everyone about it. Belson said nothing was found to make it dangerous but Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco said the threats are under investigation.
Belson again apologized at the meeting to the parents, saying he made a mistake and he accepts responsibility.
Attorney General Martha Coakley of the Law Firm Foley Hoag have been commissioned to lead an independent investigation. Coakley issued the following statement:
“I am pleased to be working with Mayor Burke and the Medford Police Department as we conduct a comprehensive, independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a gun magazine at McGlynn School. As a former Attorney General and District Attorney, I am confident that the investigation will be conducted thoroughly and purposefully. I commend the Mayor for her quick action to undertake this review and for her commitment to providing a safe learning environment for Medford’s children.”
Medford public schools will be closed Monday. Staff and administrators will use that day to discuss safety and security.
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