It soon will be time to work on the School Safety and Security Audit, commonly known as the District Audit Report, which means that schools will be asked some familiar questions and likely some new ones. This is the point when a school district’s ongoing audit process and the audit report intersect, highlighting the reasons why the audit process must be ongoing and proactive.
Audit report vs. audit process
The report consists of information compiled by the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC), for all Public School Districts in the State as required by Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code. The audit process is the information that the safety center collects from the district to compile this report.
What to expect
The center’s audit report questions are designed to provide the State Legislator with a snapshot of Texas school safety and emergency management capabilities for the past three years. School districts should not wait until the last minute to compile audit process information because they are required report their audit information to their own Boards of Trustees. Be aware that the date of the report to the board traditionally has been included in the data that the Center collects.
School districts can expect the center to collect other data, including: the point of contact for emergency management and security within the district, components of the District Emergency Operations Plan, and safety and security assessment findings. All of this information also should be included in the report to the Board of Trustees with a clear understanding of what each of these three areas entails.
The point of contact for the audit report should be the person responsible for completing the actual audit report, which includes presenting the audit process findings to the Board of Trustees, as set forth in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code. It is important to remember to that in addition to the point of contact for the District, each campus should have an emergency management point of contact as well.
The District Emergency Operations Plan is essential to implementing a comprehensive school safety and emergency management program that aligns with local, regional, and state agencies, as well as with private sector entities and volunteer organizations (Texas School Safety Center 2013). The plan and supporting documents provide the framework that outlines the district’s intended approach to managing emergencies and disasters of all types and should not be regarded as a performance guarantee. It represents a conceptual framework for consistent and coordinated multi-agency response during a major event and is supported by collaboration, training, and exercise.
Per Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, the plan should incorporate the four phases of emergency management including:
In addition, to facilitate the ongoing audit process, school districts should conduct annual safety audit surveys and fire inspections and then compile the information for the audit report. The campus audits include individual vulnerabilities of each site and tactical information related to school safety and security, much of this information is protected from public disclosure as outlined in Chapter 37.
The center will notify the superintendent of each school district when the audit tool is available. This notification will contain detailed instructions on how to complete the process. If someone other than the superintendent is responsible for completing the audit tool, it is incumbent that the point of contact coordinates with the superintendent to access the information contained in the notification, including access to the audit tool. Also, please, keep in mind that the TASB Risk Management Fund (Fund) is here to support our members throughout the audit process.
The key to a successful and stress-free audit is to make it an ongoing process that helps to identify hazards, threats, and vulnerabilities which might pose a danger to life or property and may interfere with a safe, secure and healthy learning environment. Though the current audit cycle applies to Texas public school districts, all members of the Fund are encouraged to integrate ongoing safety and security assessments into everyday activities. This includes planning, training, and drilling of emergency procedures.
For more information on the Fund Emergency Management and Security program or for support on the District Audit Report, contact Melanie Moss at 512.505.2868.