Complete These District Audit Report To-Do’s Before Summer Break
Texas school districts must submit their state-mandated safety and security audits by Sept. 15, 2023. We know your time is valuable—and in short supply. So, we’re rolling out a blog post series to support you:
- If this isn’t your first audit, consider this series a friendly reminder about milestones that will help you stay on track.
- If you’re new to the audit process, we’ll give you the foundation you need to comply with your responsibilities.
The first article in our series explains two audit components you should complete before summer break: climate surveys and intruder assessments.
What is the District Audit Report?
State law requires school districts to complete a safety and security audit at least once every three years. The audit report is a self-assessment of your district’s progress toward providing safe, secure working and learning environments. The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) spearheads the audit and produces an aggregate report for the public.
Do This Before Summer Break
You should conduct climate surveys and intruder assessments before summer break, when stakeholders are accessible and staff, students, and visitors are coming and going.
Do teachers feel safe on campus? Do nurses have a list of staff members trained in First Aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillators? Climate surveys/interviews will uncover strengths and weaknesses in your security program. They also capture stakeholder expectations around safety and security.
Include students, teachers, staff, and parents in your surveys. The TxSSC provides sample surveys (scroll down the page) for each stakeholder group. Some districts instead use Google Forms or data collection software. Whichever format you choose, make sure survey questions meet your district’s unique needs.
An intruder assessment is like an emergency response drill. An audit team member tries to enter the facility as an unauthorized person, through unauthorized areas, or both. The goal is to test each facility’s access control and visitor management procedures.
If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because your district has been conducting weekly door checks since last summer. Door checks and intruder assessments are similar, but make sure the required follow-up documentation is completed as necessary.
For example, issues found during outside door checks require corrective action plans and improvements within one week of discovery, while internal doors require the same action within one month of discovery.
Keep these best practices in mind:
- Assessments should be unannounced, but the TxSSC recommends you notify local law enforcement and a district-level administrator in advance.
- Facility staff should not know the audit team members conducting intruder assessments.
- Don’t enter aggressively.
- Let the TxSSC intruder assessment documentation form guide your work.
- If anyone is on campus without a visitor tag, staff should be empowered to report them or escort them to the office. Don’t resist if an employee intervenes.
We’ll share details about the remaining audit components in future blog posts. For now, here’s a bird’s-eye view. We recommend you tackle these components in this order.
Using the TxSSC checklist as a guide, your team walks through schools, administrative buildings, transportation shops, and other facilities and evaluates multiple aspects of security. Conduct facility assessments during the summer so you don’t disrupt learning.
Emergency Operations Plan Updates
You might identify security gaps during your facility assessments. Address those gaps in your emergency operations plan updates.
Report to the TxSSC
The TxSSC set a goal to email your superintendent a link to the audit portal on April 15. Use the link to submit your findings when your audit is complete.
Action item: If you’re not sure whether the TxSSC has your superintendent’s email address, reach out before April 15.
Report to Your Board
Create a district-level report to share audit results with your Board of Trustees before August 31.
In our next district audit report blog post, we’ll dig into the facility assessment component. In the meantime, explore the TxSSC district audit report toolkit. Fund members who need audit support can contact their risk solutions consultant.
Melanie Moss joined TASB Risk Management Services as an emergency management and school security consultant in 2013. She helps members develop comprehensive emergency management programs and understand their regulatory responsibilities.
Moss began her career in emergency management in 2006, serving as the public information and crisis communications coordinator for Williamson County, where she provided support to school districts in Williamson and Travis Counties.
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