MEDFORD (CBS) – The principal of a Medford middle school has been placed on paid administrative leave for failing to report the discovery of a loaded gun magazine in the auditorium of his school during Christmas vacation break.
Safety was called into question by Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke who today demanded to know why both she and the Medford Police Department didn’t learn of the December 28 discovery until last Friday.
A cleaning company took a picture of the now widely seen magazine that contained as many as three bullets. Officials say a custodian placed the magazine on a shelf in principal Jake Edwards’ office, and they believe he inadvertently threw it away, never notifying police when it was later called to his attention.
Superintendent Roy Belson also made the decision not to notify police in early January telling the school committee he thought it was “an isolated incident.”
“To think he’s allowed to make that decision single handedly makes me sick,” said parent Angela Moore. “We’re lucky nothing terrible happened.”
City councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn says she’s the one who informed the police. “To put someone on paid leave that I was told threw it away in a trash barrel is just not enough,” she says.
To put the community at ease a sweep of Medford schools was conducted with K-9 units “looking for anything out of the ordinary”, according to police chief Leo Sacco.
Officials say former Attorney General Martha Coakley with the law firm Foley Hoag has also been hired to conduct an independent investigation.
On Thursday night, a large crowd gathered at a Medford School Committee meeting to discuss the situation.
“Had that been a loaded gun and we ended up with God forbid something like Florida or Columbine, would that still have been a bad choice that you could have forgiven?” one parent asked Superintendent Belson.
WBZ-TV’s Louisa Moller reports
The line of outraged parents, students and teachers lasted hours, unsatisfied with how the city and school district dealt with the loaded gun magazine.
“Maybe we should have metal detectors,” one student said. “And, if that’s what’s going to make us feel safe, then you should do that, because I don’t feel safe here!”
Some parents called on the superintendent to step down.
A Medford city councilor says this is not the first time they’ve been kept in the dark, alleging two fifth graders made threats to shoot up McGlynn last week. The police chief says that’s under investigation.
A motion passed at the meeting to close school on Monday to try to figure out how to explain the situation to kids at the school.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano and Louisa Moller contributed to this report.