Medford principal put on leave after discovery of gun magazine goes unreported for weeks

MEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - A Medford principal has been placed on leave after the discovery of a loaded gun magazine in McGlynn K-8 School went unreported for weeks.

Police and K9 teams from Medford and surrounding communities swept through the city high school on 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 say 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 clip 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.

“We don’t have the clip. We’re not sure, we don’t believe it was intentionally disposed of. We believe it could’ve been inadvertently discarded,” Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco said.

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,” Burke said.

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.

“I would like someone we trust to be put in tomorrow morning. For him to be put on leave? He should be fired,” Lungo-Koehn said.

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,” Burke said. “I am both professionally and personally astounded that I was not informed immediately of the incident.”

Sacco asked for the public’s help as police work to determine who left the clip behind.

“Handling a situation of this potential magnitude within the school system alone is unacceptable,” Burke said.

Attorney General Martha Coakley of the Law Firm Foley Hoag have been commissioned to lead an independent investigation.

Belson told 7’s Sharman Sacchetti that Medford schools are safe and that he didn’t mean to cause anxiety.

“I would’ve done things differently knowing what I know, how the community wanted me to respond to this,” Belson said.

Students are set to return to school next week when vacation comes to a close.

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