Regional school safety centers meeting requirements, performance audit finds

Apr 24, 2023

Every educational service district in Washington has established a regional school safety center, conducted threat assessments, and offered trainings, resources and consultation to area schools, according to a performance audit released today.

The new report by the Office of the Washington State Auditor followed up on a 2019 audit that highlighted the role of the state's nine educational service districts (ESDs) in supporting school safety planning. That year, the Legislature provided $1.3 million in funding for ESDs to establish school safety centers, and later increased funding to add staff to them.

School safety planning can include preparing for natural disasters or potential criminal acts like shootings. ESDs provide local schools with administrative support in conducting threat assessments, emergency operations planning and coordinating behavioral health support.

Today's report reviewed what steps each ESD has taken to implement recommendations of the 2019 audit, including addressing the safety gaps it identified. Auditors found that ESDs are meeting requirements for emergency operations planning, in addition to meeting threat assessment requirements.

ESDs also met most behavioral health services requirements, such as partnering with regional community-based organizations and sharing information about available services with school districts.

However, auditors also identified an area for improvement. Only two ESDs regularly provided school districts with training on how to access Medicaid funding for behavioral health services. The trainings, which are required, are intended to help defray the costs of such services in each school district.

The full report, including recommendations and information on individual ESDs, can be found here: Opportunities to Improve School Safety Planning.