A gun was found in a Middletown High School student's book bag Friday morning after the student was in a dispute with another student in the school.

The Delaware State Police are conducting a criminal investigation.

Appoquinimink School District Superintendent Matt Burrows sent the following message about the incident to district families and posted it on the district's website Friday afternoon:

"Shortly before noon today, a quick-thinking teacher called down to the office to report an altercation between two students at Middletown High. Staff were able to separate the teens before any blows were thrown, and no one was injured. But, a check of one student's bag revealed a handgun.

"I’m grateful to report that the police responded quickly to our 911 call, and the student was taken into custody without incident.

"But let me emphasize that the real heroes today were our Middletown High School staff. Their vigilance, quick thinking and solid instincts contained the situation before it even began.

"Illegal and dangerous behavior is not tolerated in the Appoquinimink School District. Weapons of any kind are not permitted on or near school property.

"The young person in question was immediately placed on suspension and escorted away by the police. Following our Code of Conduct, and pending the conclusion of a formal investigation, he will not be allowed further contact with students or staff, and will not be allowed back on school property. Due to the seriousness of the infraction, this student will not be returning to our schools.

"As the parent of two teens, I know how unnerving it is to hear that our community has experienced an incident like this.

"I can reassure you that we'll do our best to to make sure something like this doesn't occur again, and that we are, and will continue to be, vigilant stewards of our students and schools.

"If there is a grain of comfort to be drawn from these events, it's that the school safety training, preparation and commitment of staff was never more evident than in our response to today’s incident.

"Educators did a phenomenal job responding in a quick, calm and collected manner. I'd like to single out several: Mrs. Michelle Semonelle, Mr. Brant Perry, Mr. Joe Lahutsky and Dr. Matt Donovan for special recognition and a job well done.

"In closing, let me leave you with this thought. When it comes to school safety, vigilance is our best defense. Please help the staff and I as we communicate to our children, 'If you see something, say something.'

"As always, your principal and I are here if you have questions or concerns."