Loaded handgun seized in Brooklyn high school on first day of classes; incident comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña visit schools in all five boroughs

ByLeslie Brody and Pervaiz Shallwani

Read the full article at WSJ.com >

A 15-year-old boy brought a loaded gun to a Brooklyn high school Thursday, the first day of classes for more than a million New York City children.

Police said that shortly before 9 a.m., a metal detector found a .22-caliber handgun in a student’s backpack at the School for Career Development.

The student was taken into custody after security guards called the police, and he was later charged with criminal possession of a weapon as a juvenile. There was one bullet in the chamber with three more in the magazine, police said.

A law-enforcement official said the student told police that the backpack belonged to a friend.

The weapon discovery came shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a back-to-school news conference that crime was down in city public schools. Some charter-school advocates have disputed his claim, citing state violence data that officials have called flawed and are planning to revise.

In an email, a city Department of Education spokeswoman called the incident “deeply troubling” and said the department was working with police as they conduct an investigation.

“Safety always comes first,” she added, “and there is zero tolerance for weapons of any kind in schools.”

Seven firearms were found in city schools last year, down from nine in 2014-15 and 10 in 2013-14, according to the New York Police Department.

Thursday’s gun incident marred what officials hoped would be a celebratory start to the school year, with the number of children enrolled in public preschool hitting 70,430, a record.

This will be the last full academic year for the mayor to show success in his vision for improving schools, especially the most troubled ones, before voters have their say in the 2017 mayoral elections.

Mr. de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited schools in all five boroughs to highlight their agenda. This year, they emphasized a “single shepherd” effort to assign a long-term counselor to help each student in grades six through 12 in District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brownsville.

They also visited classes tied to expanding computer science, algebra and Advanced Placement courses, as well as a push to have children reading at grade level by the end of second grade.

Mr. de Blasio went to KIPP Infinity Middle School in West Harlem, part of a large charter network, to show the value of collaboration between charters and traditional public schools. His warm conversations with students and educators there contrasted with his clashes with charters in the past, and his comments last month that some charters’ high test scores stemmed from test prep rather than real learning.

At KIPP, he saw an eighth-grade math class where students tutored their peers. After watching a pair work together, he praised one girl’s effort to lead her friend toward solving a math problem but advised her to resist saying too much.

“It’s only going to take hold if she figures out the next steps fully on her own,” Mr. de Blasio said.

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