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Highlights

Events such as the recent shootings by armed intruders in schools across the nation, natural disasters, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and potential pandemics have heightened awareness for the need for school districts to be prepared to address a range of emergencies within and outside of schools buildings. Congress has raised concerns over school preparedness, with a particular interest in how federal agencies provide assistance to school districts. This testimony discusses preliminary findings related to GAO's review of emergency management in school districts, including (1) the roles of federal and state governments in establishing requirements and providing resources to school districts for emergency management planning, (2) what school districts have done to plan and prepare for emergencies, and (3) the challenges school districts have experienced in planning for emergencies, and communicating and coordinating with first responders, parents, and students. To obtain this information, GAO interviewed federal officials, surveyed a stratified random sample of all public school districts, surveyed state agencies that administer federal grants that can be used for school emergency management planning, conducted site visits to school districts, and reviewed relevant documents.

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