A gun was found in the backpack of a middle school student at the Willie L. Brown Jr. Academy on Monday.
The .22-caliber handgun was discovered around 4 p.m., right after school let out. The principal and security guards had detained four students who were suspected of breaking into a locked classroom and stealing a teacher’s laptop, according to San Francisco police Officer Boaz Mariles and San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
In one of the children’s backpacks, Principal Tareyton Russ found not only the laptop but also a gun, Mariles said.
Police and the children’s parents were contacted immediately, and the students were taken to the Bayview Police Station for questioning. Mariles commended school officials on how they handled the situation.
The academy is a 221-student public college preparatory school for fourth- through eighth-graders in the Bayview district. Blythe would not say how old the student is, only that he’s “middle school age,” which is sixth through eighth grade.
School district leaders said finding guns on students is a relative rarity in the school district.
“This is an anomaly; this is very unusual,” said Dennis Kelly, president of the United Educators of San Francisco union. “But there’s no excuse for weapons being brought to school. Schools should be havens of safety for our children and the people who work there.”
Board of Education President Jane Kim described the case as “heartbreaking.” She said surveys of students have found that they typically feel very safe in school. However, many students found with weapons say they feel the need to defend themselves as they travel between home and school.
“We’ve never had a gun brandished or discharged on school property,” she said. “We also know that our young students are exposed to guns in their neighborhoods at very young ages, and at some point we have to accept this as a reality and try to figure out how we can best combat exposure to weapons at young ages.”