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HR Audit: You Know You Need One...Stop Putting It Off

Sounds super exciting, doesn’t it? Conducting an HR audit. Right up there with flossing your teeth every night and cleaning behind the refrigerator periodically. Just like your teeth and gums and the dust bunnies accumulating behind the fridge need you to care about them, your school employees’ personnel files are almost surely in need of attention.

While there are a variety of human resources audits an organization can conduct, this post is going to focus on the compliance audit of files. Yep, nothing exciting about this; we can all agree, pretty basic and boring. Why should school leaders invest time and energy into such a boring task when there are more interesting and innovative tasks to accomplish? Because if they don’t, the results of untended personnel files can be disastrous for students’ safety, their education, as well as for the overall health and future success of the organization.

Schools are charged with ensuring the safety of their students and the appropriate professional certification of their faculty. One of the starting points is the paperwork in the personnel file. Required-by-law background check clearances, state-specific clearance forms (Act 28 and Act 168 forms in Pennsylvania), state certifications, and internal documents verifying the certifications as valid - these documents are the starting point for school safety and the education of students. These documents help to ensure the trustworthiness of the people interacting with your students. Of course, the documents can’t tell us everything and certainly aren’t a predictor of future behavior, but do provide assurances for the school that past behavior still warrants the individual being in a school setting and that educator certifications are currently valid.

Inspection visits to your school from authorizers, accreditation boards, program auditors, your State Department of Education, and even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are going to happen from time to time. What are they going to want to see when they visit? Typically, they will want to review samples of personnel files or specific documents from those files to verify that accurate records are kept and that records are in compliance with applicable laws.

Clean personnel files may not be fun or headline-grabbing - I have yet to see someone post “Clean HR Audit Completed - HR @ My School Rules!” on Instagram - but they will help to keep your school’s charter and/or accreditation intact, funding flowing, and your school’s name out of the headlines.

Ready to start your personnel file audit? If you’re like most schools, your poor HR staff person is so over-burdened with tasks there is no way they can tackle an audit to ensure each file includes every required item, or you don’t even have a dedicated HR professional tasked with creating, maintaining, and periodically auditing personnel files. Reach out to Lakeside Leadership; we’ve got HR audit checklists ready to go, an HR certified specialist, and we would love to work with you to develop a plan that works for your school.