Paterson schools did not conduct safety drills on a timely basis, audit report | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Paterson schools did not conduct safety drills on a timely basis, audit report

By Jayed Rahman
Published: February 5, 2016

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More than half of the city’s schools did not conduct a fire drill within the first 10 days of school opening as is required by state regulations, according to an audit report presented to the school board on Wednesday evening.

26 out of 48 schools failed to conduct a fire drill within the first 10 days of classes in school year 2014-15, says the audit. Additionally, 16 out of 48 schools did not conduct security drills within the first 15 days of school opening.

State-appointed district superintendent said the high numbers in the audit emerged largely due to lack of records from many of the schools. “The major problem seems whether or not the paperwork got to the right place,” he said.

The audit found 11 out of 48 schools failed to conduct at least one fire drill per month as is required by law. Smith said there were six schools that didn’t perform it. He said one school failed to conduct fire drills five time, but was counted as five schools. He said the principal of that school is no longer at the district.

Smith said the reporting of the drills from schools  have been streamlined through an electronic submission form for better record keeping.

Smith said the audit focuses on the drills not being performed within the time frame required by law. “We’re not saying they didn’t do it. We’re saying they didn’t do it within the required time,” he said.

The audit also noted emergency responders were not notified 48-hour prior to the drill. The auditors did not receive any documents that indicated the district notified emergency responders within the time frame, according to the audit. The new electronic form includes an area to mark off whether police were given the necessary notification.

43 out of 48 schools did not conduct at least two of active shooter, non-fire evacuation, bomb threat, and lockdown drills in the last school year, according to the audit. Every school did two safety drills, but there were confusions between lockdown and active shooter, according corrective action plan.

The school board was expected to vote on a corrective action plan to address the audit’s finding, but board member Jonathan Hodges said he did not previously see the report and needed additional time to review.

Smith told board members the district is now in full compliance state regulations.


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