As you well know, local school districts must approve their schools’ comprehensive safety plans by March 1st of every year. Last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued a news release stating that the California Department of Education is taking a new step to help ensure student safety. Beginning with the 2018–19 school year, comprehensive school safety plans will now be audited through the annual audits required by EC Section 41020. Compliance with the following EC sections will be audited:
EC Section 32286(a): Each school shall adopt its comprehensive school safety plan by March 1, 2000, and shall review and update its plan by March 1, every year thereafter.
EC Section 32288(a): In order to ensure compliance with this article, each school shall forward its comprehensive school safety plan to the school district or county office of education for approval.
EC Section 32288(c): In order to ensure compliance with this article, each school district or county office of education shall annually notify the State Department of Education by October 15 of any schools that have not developed or updated their comprehensive school safety plan per Section 32281.
In a subsequent letter issued to superintendents throughout the state, Torlakson encourages districts to review and revise their monitoring and approval processes to ensure compliance with EC requirements. He referred to effective practices identified in a 2016 School Violence Prevention report by the California State Auditor. Those practices included:
- LEA distribution of a safety plan template to school sites for schools to modify and include site-specific procedures.
- LEA use of a document-tracking system to ensure that its schools submit safety plans in a timely manner so that the district can review and approve them before the March 1 deadline.
- County office of education requirement that districts in its jurisdiction certify that they have reviewed and approved all of their schools’ safety plans each year.