School Safety and Security Audit Toolkit
1.3 Conducting School Safety and Security Audits
The on-site audit for each school or facility may take one or more working days. To accurately assess current safety and security conditions, audits should be conducted during normal school or facility operations when students or staff are present. Audits should be avoided when the schedule is severely altered, during special testing days, or when operations have ceased.
During the course of the audit, team members should utilize appropriate sections of the District Facility Safety and Security Audit Checklist to ensure a comprehensive assessment of safety and security is conducted. Team members may assess additional components, which can be determined locally. The facility audit checklist is a guide, and some items in the checklist may not be present in some school or district facilities or not be applicable to current operations. The school or district should determine which items from the checklists are appropriate. It is important to maintain a comprehensive audit of safety and security in all facilities; therefore, be cautious if items are deleted or not assessed, as it could result in gaps in the assessment.
Conducting a safety and security audit of a facility consists of the following:
An assessment of facility and district policies and procedures.
Surveys or interviews of students, teachers, staff, and parents.
An intruder assessment that tests current access control and visitor management procedures at each facility.
A site visit to each facility that includes an interview with the campus administrator, a walk-through and visual assessment of all building interiors and exteriors including grounds, a document review, and an exit conference.
A written report or summary of audit findings for each facility, which includes commendations and recommendations.
Inclusion of results of each facility audit in a comprehensive district report and data included in the submission to the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC).
This audit guide contains two checklists: The Comprehensive Document Review Checklist provides guidance for documents to review, and the School Facility Audit Checklist provides guidance for more specific procedures, conditions and operations within a specific school or support facility. Both appear below where appropriate in the audit process.
Surveys and Interviews
Surveys and/or interviews should be part of the audit process and provided to students, teachers, staff, and parents in advance of any site visit. TxSSC recommends that surveys or interviews be conducted several weeks ahead of the site visit. Results from the surveys and interviews should be summarized for use during the site visit to validate the respondents’ perceptions of safety and security in that school or facility. Summaries of information collected from the surveys should also be addressed in the facility’s audit report.
The TxSSC has developed sample data collection instruments that can be used to gather information from various individuals during a safety and security audit. The instruments include a survey for teachers or staff members, a survey for elementary school students, and interview questions for office staff, nurses, counselors, staff members, and teachers. Questions can be added, deleted, or altered to fit the district’s data collection needs
Sample Interview Questions
The purpose of an intruder assessment is similar to that of a drill in that it tests the adherence of school staff and students to established school or facility access control and visitor management procedures. Through the observation of staff and student response to an intruder or unauthorized person in the facility, the assessment can identify areas in need of improvement. An intruder assessment should be conducted prior to the scheduled site visit of the school or facility if possible. An intruder assessment, while part of the audit process, may be utilized at varying times throughout the school year to monitor adherence to procedures and make improvements.
One or more members of the audit team (not known at the facility) should conduct an intruder assessment. If persons other than members of the audit team are used for the intruder assessment, train them on their expected roles and in safety protocol during their assessment. Having multiple persons conduct the intruder assessment allows for testing multiple entries and should improve the opportunities to observe school personnel and student actions. This assessment should be unannounced and facility staff should be unaware of the assessment. It is highly suggested that a member of the law enforcement jurisdiction and a district level administrator be notified of the assessment in the event someone calls in from the school, facility, district, or community in response to the intruder.
The intruder assessment consists of attempting to enter the school as an unauthorized person or through unauthorized areas or both. If that is not possible, following current visitor protocol, the intruder should be able to enter the school and observe adherence to current protocol or exploit the protocol to see the reaction of staff and students. Upon leaving the school the intruder should document the date and time of the assessment, which areas of the school were accessed, the amount of time before the intruder was observed or approached, and visitor procedures in use at the school.
The intruder should not resist actions taken by the facility staff upon discovery and should show identification and permission from the district to conduct the assessment, if requested. An intruder assessment is a highly effective way to test adherence to district and facility access and visitor protocols for the purpose of making improvement.
The audit team should schedule the site visit, including an entrance conference, with the principal or facility manager as the start of the audit for that facility. In most cases, the site visit can be completed in one day. If the campus or facility is large or encompasses many buildings, the audit may take longer than one day. If necessary, the audit team may divide into sub-teams for some of the activities.
TxSSC recommends that multiple audit team members evaluate each section of the facility to provide a comprehensive and objective assessment that captures the different perspectives of team members. Team members should make every effort to minimize disruption to the facility’s normal activities. A return visit may be required if all areas of the school were not available at the time of the assessment.
An entrance conference is an introductory meeting, usually lasting about one hour, with the principal or facility manager and other members of the school or facility to review survey results, discuss campus concerns, and ask and answer questions about safety and security concerns. The entrance conference is an opportunity to communicate with the principal and staff about the planned activity of the audit team while on-site, to understand safety and security needs and perceptions of administration of that facility, and to discover items that the audit team may need to pay special attention to during the assessment.
Information obtained from the entrance conference will be reviewed and addressed in the exit conference for use in the facility’s audit report. Click on the link below for sample questions that may be used during the entrance conference.
The School or Facility Walk-Through
The school or facility walk-through is a visual assessment of all building interiors and exteriors including grounds using the School Facility Audit Checklist. Conduct the walk-through while the school or facility is in as normal an operational mode as possible. Certain portions of the walk-through may require special arrangements to minimize interruption or observe operations. The walk-through should provide an opportunity to observe the following:
- Transition between class periods, student and staff lunch periods, and general movement throughout the facility as well as student interaction with staff, law enforcement and general climate.
- How classrooms and storage areas are secured.
- Condition of facilities and emergency response equipment and supplies.
- Adherence to dress code and other conduct requirements.
- Safety in specialized areas such as chemical labs, career and technology education areas, weight rooms, and athletic areas.
- Arrival and dismissal of students to and from district facilities.
- Student, staff, and visitor parking areas and signage.
- Traffic patterns, drop-off and pick-up areas, bus loading areas, and commercial deliveries.
- Busy operational periods at non-instructional facilities such as buses arriving or leaving the transportation facility, maintenance and support staff deployment, and activities at special event venues.
- Facility lighting and security camera coverage.
The School Facility Audit Checklist
The School Facility Audit Checklist guides the observation of specific facilities and operations within the district. The checklist allows the audit team to assess specific aspects of safety and security within a school or support facility. Sections include demographics, intruder assessments, risk factors, instructional facilities, administration building, and various other types of support facilities as well as document review. The facility audit checklist contains a set of statements related to the safety and security that may be applicable to that type of facility. These statements are not all-inclusive and certain facilities may require additional evaluation statements. In addition, some of the statements provided may not be applicable to some districts or facilities. This checklist is intended as guidance. Answering “no” to any of the statements does not necessarily indicate that there is a compliance issue or a need to make changes, which would depend greatly on district policy and procedure requirements, needs, and any changes to existing law.
The School Facility Audit Checklist addresses the following facility types:
- Schools and instructional campuses.
- Portable or temporary classrooms and buildings.
- Facilities and areas within school facilities used as polling places.
- Administration building.
- Transportation facilities.
- Maintenance facilities.
- Natatorium or aquatics centers.
- Special event centers.
- Construction worksites.
The Document Review
Conduct a review of documents associated with each school or facility. Documents for review should include, but not be limited to, the following:
- District Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs).
- Campus/Facility Emergency Response Plans.
- Student Code of Conduct.
- Student Handbook.
- Faculty/Staff Handbook.
- Safety and Security Committee Documents.
- Past Audit Findings (previous review cycle).
- Visitor Management and Access Control Procedures.
- Floor plans and Site plans.
- Climate Survey Results from all Stakeholders.
- Campus Discipline Referral Data (aggregate only).
- Campus Behavioral Threat Assessment Data (aggregate only).
This review is usually conducted following the on-site portion of the audit but could be conducted before or simultaneously if audit team staff are available for assignment for the review. It is important to be able to reference procedural requirements in documents with actual observations from the audit.
The Recommended Documents to Review list may be used to ensure that the audit team thoroughly reviewed all documents identified as part of the audit process. Most documents should be reviewed and updated annually, at a minimum.
Conducting an Exit Conference
A brief exit conference with the principal or facility manager should be scheduled to provide a few general comments about what was observed pending the actual writing and finalizing of a report. This is generally considered as a place to thank the principal or facility manager for their assistance and present them with a brief verbal summary of what was observed. Include commendations of observations of good practices as well as observations on areas that appear to need improvement. Include feedback on items or questions the staff may have discussed as part of the entrance conference. The exit conference is also a time to provide an estimated timeline of completion of a written report of that facility’s audit and discuss the process for any more formal presentations either to the facility or a district’s presentation to their board of trustees.