Atlanta Public Schools to conduct safety review as part of audit plan

Atlanta Public Schools plans to do an internal safety and security audit. MARC PENDLETON / Dayton Daily News

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Atlanta Public Schools plans to do an internal safety and security audit. MARC PENDLETON / Dayton Daily News

Atlanta Public Schools will probe its safety and security efforts, one of several planned internal audits.

The school board’s audit committee on Thursday approved a list of reviews it prioritized for the coming year. Student and staff safety emerged as a top concern during initial conversations with district leaders.

The purpose of internal audits is to investigate district functions, provide improvement recommendations and reduce risks.

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A consultant told the audit committee that administrators expressed increased concern about physical safety and more violence, weapons and gang activity.

Officials are in the early stages of developing the audit plan and did not detail the exact scope of the review.

“There may be policies and procedures in place, but are they being followed?” said Connie Brown, executive director of internal compliance. “Sometimes, you know, you may not realize this little small thing that you don’t do, how big of an impact that is when it comes to safety particularly.”

She noted concerns about having enough safety officers, especially on elementary campuses.

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Metro Atlanta school districts have discussed increased security measures in the wake of the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Other planned audits will target how district employees use purchasing cards, which continues an ongoing analysis of an area that’s susceptible to fraud and misuse. The audit team also plans to review the district’s ethics program, technology risks and human resources.

Completing the audits will require contracts with consultants because the internal audit team is understaffed.

Although the APS budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 includes funding to hire two more internal auditors, Brown said she has vacancies for those positions and two others. She said it’s been tough to fill the openings because of the competitive job market.

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