In the latest incident, administrators conducting an unannounced bag search as middle schoolers arrived for the day on May 5, noticed two students run off and discovered the loaded Magnum on the ground, the department spokesman said. The students could not be identified, and police were still conducting an investigation into the weapon's origins as of Monday, the spokesman said.The discovery was part of a new policy of periodic searches enacted by IS 59 Principal Carleton Gordon after an 11-year-old boy brought a loaded 9mm to the school in January, said Timothy James, president of the area's Community Education Council. He said Gordon sent a letter detailing his new plan to parents that month, after sending notification in the fall about which items were not allowed to be brought to the school at 189-98 Ridgedale St."The principal's going to accept the blame for any incident at the school," James said. "He's being proactive about it."After the search, several parents called the TimesLedger to complain about lost classroom time during the search, which took between a half hour and an hour."I understand about the instruction time," James said. "With safety comes a price."Another parent, intimately involved in education issues in the district, said she appreciated the need for safety measures, but said proper search procedures had not been followed because administrators, not school safety officers, looked in students' bags."If we don't follow procedures then we don't know what else will happen," she said. She asked that her name not be used because of her role in education issues and the sensitive nature of the incident.A spokesman for the Education Department said it appeared all regulations had been followed during the search. According to the department's Web site, searches may occur when there is "reasonable suspicion to believe that a student has violated or is violating the law or school rules and regulations" and should be "conducted by school safety agents on behalf of the principal/designee."Gordon, the principal, could not be reached for comment. IS 59 reported two major crimes in the 2003-04 academic year, slightly above the 1.6 city average for similarly sized schools. The middle school has no metal detectors. Safety agents were tipped off to the gun in January by students.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2005 Community News Group
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