Students in Medford returning to city schools Tuesday may notice increased police presence in school buildings across the city.
The Medford School Committee canceled school for students on Monday after news surfaced that a loaded magazine for a firearm was discovered in the McGlynn Middle School auditorium Dec. 29 but was not reported to the mayor or police until February.
While students stayed home on Monday, teachers and school staff used that time to review the district’s safety and security policies and undergo additional training, officials said.
The principal of the middle school, Jake Edwards, was put on paid administrative leave after school officials concluded he may have thrown out the magazine while cleaning out his office during the December school vacation.
Police Chief Leo Sacco said there were “at least three, maybe four bullets” in the magazine, and it’s unclear how it got into the school.
In a statement posted on the school system’s website, Superintendent Roy Belson wrote that a cleaning company found the magazine under a seat in the auditorium and turned it over to the school custodian, who locked it up in the principal’s office. Belson wrote that the magazine may have been thrown out the following day.
“Edwards was in his office on December 30, 2017, for the purpose of cleaning his office and he claims he threw several items away that could have included the clip,” Belson wrote.
At a press conference last Thursday, Mayor Stephanie M. Burke said she did not learn of the discovery until Feb. 16. Police were also kept in the dark until then, the mayor said.
Burke said the way the episode was handled was “unacceptable” and “put our entire community at grave risk.” Martha Coakley, the former attorney general, is conducting an independent investigation into the matter, she said.
Last week police searched every public school in the city and found no other weapons or contraband. Sacco said Medford’s schools are safe and asked the public to assist in the investigation.
But the discovery of the magazine — and the mystery of how it got there — upset many parents and has left the school community on edge. Some have even called for the superintendent to resign.
In a note posted on the school system’s website, school officials tried to reassure parents that steps are being taken to keep students safe.
“We will be working to better inform and train our faculty and staff of the district’s safety and security protocols to address those fears,” officials said in the statement. “Our schools will be better prepared to address the issues and concerns of students related to recent events at the McGlynn Middle School, as well as the security procedures at each of the district’s schools.”
Officials said counselors will be on hand to provide additional support for teachers and students Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon at the McGlynn school, officials wrote.
“Helping to ensure that our students are emotionally safe in relation to news about school violence and threats is an important responsibility,” officials said in the statement. “Please reach out to any member of the administrative team if we can help support you in any way.”Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.