Audit Update

Audit Update
Posted on 09/08/2021
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BEST PRACTICES SAFETY AUDIT UPDATE
FROM SUPERINTENDENT HANKINS
September 7, 2021
Dear parents, students, and all members of the LKSD community,
As you know, last summer, LKSD became Alaska’s first school district to engage an independent expert to review our existing policies and advise us on best practices for preventing sexual misconduct. Dr. Janet Barry, a former National School District Superintendent of the Year, conducted this safety audit to help the district strengthen our existing practices.
 Dr. Barry began work in July 2020 and provided her first findings and recommendations in March 2021. The District used her findings to guide our action steps. These included updating policies, hiring practices, trainings and supervision to be more proactive in preventing abuse. She helped us see the power of our new policy, BP 5141.42, as the central support for all new efforts—especially based on the positive power of a similar policy in Washington state. This policy engages all staff, students, school volunteers and community members in protecting children and raises prevention efforts well above current state standards. You can find the policy on the LKSD School Board page.
 On August 19, Dr. Barry presented her final audit report to the school board, stressing how “best practices” work together as a system to make students safer. The report is posted on our website. The following is a four-point summary:
  • LKSD created a system of best practices that greatly increase student protections against sexual abuse. The system eliminates opportunities for sexual abuse in schools in six ways, all working together:

 1) Adopting key policies and regulation, including requiring all staff to maintain professional boundaries with students and report suspected child abuse;

 2) Effective personnel management, including hiring, training, supervising, reporting, investigating, and disciplining or firing employees when necessary;

 3) Teaching students to stay safe by knowing and planning, making complaints, and finding help

 4) Hearing concerns and complaints. This includes telling parents and students how to bring complaints to the district and get help when they need it;

 5) Taking appropriate administrative action, including training and requiring administrators to respond appropriately to any staff behavior that breaks professional boundaries; and

 6) Ensuring accountability. This creates a reporting system that makes all staff accountable to the superintendent, and the superintendent accountable to the Board.

  • LKSD acted on specific recommendations to eliminate opportunities for abuse. The audit identified ways to bring current standard practices to “best practice” level. During 2020-2021, LKSD took numerous steps to do just that.
  •  The District has two more tasks to complete to bring all elements to up to a level of “Best Practice.” The District will list prohibited staff behaviors with children. The list is based on expert research related to sexual grooming. In addition, LKSD will implement new, more specific guidelines for investigating complaints, including a 3-person investigation committee.
  •  The District is committed to annual evaluation to ensure the system continues to meet its goals. The superintendent and board will decide how best to do this.

 At the end of her report, Dr. Barry stated: “When the final two tasks are completed, LKSD’s new system of safeguards will provide the best, most comprehensive protections against sexual abuse I have seen in a school district.” In sum, this audit has greatly increased sexual abuse awareness, strengthened policy, and helped us put “best practices” to work in every school.

 Dr. Barry’s audit showcases the precedent LKSD is setting for sexual abuse protections in Alaska and the U.S. In this leadership role, we have begun by sharing a template of our audit with the Association of Alaska School Boards so that students in other districts can benefit from our improved student protections.

 If you want to hear more about the system of best practices we are putting to work, Dr. Barry will join me on Coffee at KYUK on Friday, September 10th. As always, more information about our continued commitment to safety, as well as resources for identifying and preventing sexual misconduct, are available in the Parent Resources (https://www.lksd.org/parent_resources) section of the LKSD website.

 Above all, I want to thank everyone within the LKSD community for their dedication to ensuring our students benefit from a new standard for sexual abuse prevention. We will continue our commitment to maintaining a safe environment in our schools, school community, and beyond.

 Sincerely,

 Kimberly Hankins

 Superintendent

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