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Audit of Wisconsin School Safety Plans Finds Schools Have Few Plans for Parent-Student Reunification

The audit found that 85 percent of Wisconsin school safety plans adequately address at least six of seven emergency situations.

School safety plans implemented by districts across Wisconsin adequately meet most safety guidelines and procedures, according to the findings of an audit released last week by the state legislature.

The audit looked into how schools in the state used a $100 million grant program for school safety improvements that was first implemented in 2018. The money was largely used for installing electronic door locks, surveillance cameras and emergency communications systems, the Associated Press reported.

In addition, schools are required to submit safety plans to the state justice department detailing their procedures for emergencies, including an active shooter incident. As of April last year, more than 61 percent of schools had submitted 779 safety plans, according to the nonpartisan Legislature Audit Bureau.

The bureau found that 85 percent of the plans adequately set forth safety guidelines for at least six of seven school safety situations that they are required to address. Those situations include violent attacks, fires and weather-related emergencies.

But only about half of the plans contained guidelines for non-classroom emergencies. Only half of the plans also contained guidelines about parent-student reunification after an incident, and many of those submissions were not detailed, the audit found.

In addition, auditors surveyed more than 1,200 administrators and 521 law enforcement agencies about school safety, finding that respondents were largely satisfied with the administration of the grant program and the assistance they received in crafting security plans.

“This is a great example of a functional audit,” state Sen. Robert Cowles said in a statement. “I believe that the items for legislative consideration would further improve and strengthen this program by adding accountability and continuous review of the school safety plans.”

No problems were found with how the justice department handled nearly 19 percent of the grants awarded to schools. $94.5 million was awarded to schools across Wisconsin, and the remaining $5.5 million was used by the department to support initiatives such as mental health training.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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