Preferred name for attendance - how to make a change?

MrsSantamaria
New Member

Preferred name for attendance - how to make a change?

I'm a substitute teacher for a large school board, and recently, an issue has aggravated me to the point that I've decided to push the issue and see if things can be changed. I reported the issue a few years ago privately, and never got any notable response, or any observed changes.

 

For a variety of reasons, ranging from privacy to transgender issues, there really needs to be a way to do attendance / see class lists / etc that respects the need for a name that doesn't match the legal records.

 

There's already two ways to do the attendance - by seating plan or by the list of names. There's also already a way to put in a preferred name in Gradebook, though as far as I know (again, just a sub) I'm not sure if it connects to anything else.

 

There needs to be a change that allows another way of doing attendance. Several schools in my school board, for example, forbid showing the attendance list to the class (for privacy reasons), and require attendance to be taken by the last name, so that no one is forced to have their legal name revealed to the class at large.

 

In my opinion, in 2019, this is ridiculous. In the four school districts I've worked with over the years, all four of them use PowerSchool, and it appears to be a major choice for boards around the world. The company, private though it may be, needs to add this functionality to best meet the needs of students, and the best way to do that, I imagine, would be by causing pressure to be placed on the company to do so, since simply reporting the issue failed.

 

As a community, I imagine this is the best starting point to get an idea of what approach to take. I don't know if I should try making a petition, or encouraging teachers to join this community and talk about it here, or by maybe getting a group of teachers / schools to bug the superintendent to talk to the company, or what. I have no clue what I'm doing. All I know is that sitting around, hoping they do something about it, hasn't worked for the several years I've been aware of the problem.

 

Can anyone give me an idea of the best way to approach the matter? Thanks.

  • SIS
1 Solution
jamiem7
Community Moderator
Community Moderator

Thank you for your post and suggestion in the Community!

 

I recommend reaching out to your PowerSchool Admin within the school district to share your suggestion and ask for the attendance policy to be reviewed.  

 

The PowerSchool Admin can reach out to PowerSchool Support for assistance reviewing the attendance method within the school.



Jamie H.
Lead Community Moderator

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18 Replies
jamiem7
Community Moderator
Community Moderator

Thank you for your post and suggestion in the Community!

 

I recommend reaching out to your PowerSchool Admin within the school district to share your suggestion and ask for the attendance policy to be reviewed.  

 

The PowerSchool Admin can reach out to PowerSchool Support for assistance reviewing the attendance method within the school.



Jamie H.
Lead Community Moderator

Explore becoming a PowerSchool Mentor today!

View solution in original post

MrsSantamaria
New Member

Thanks for the advice! I'll look up the relevant persons as soon as I can. Thanks again 🙂

bdoucette
Hobbyist

Hi,

 

PowerSchool has added some legal name fields that allowed us to track both a student's legal first name as well as their preferred first name. On the Demographic page, we use the PSCORE_LEGAL_FIRST_NAME field to store their legal first name, and use the FIRST_NAME field to store their preferred first name. Our page is customized such that if the school leaves the FIRST_NAME field empty, then the legal name gets auto-polulated as the preferred name once the user submits the changes on the page.

 

In PowerTeacher, the class list displays the students' FIRST_NAME (preferred) name, while the name that appears in the PSCORE_LEGAL_FIRST_NAME field is reversed for official documents (i.e. high school transcript).

 

 

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

I wonder if you would be able to provide any information about what state you are in and what version of PowerSchool you are using?

 

I am in North Carolina, and am advocating on behalf of several school districts with our Department of Public Instruction to request a PowerSchool update that includes an option for Legal Name as distinct from preferred name or affirmed name. The 2019 North Carolina PowerSchool system does not allow that option, or the fields you describe in your post. These districts are rightly concerned about privacy violations when a transgender student's legal name is disclosed without their consent to faculty, students or volunteers.

 

It would be a great help if we could reference a location or system where PowerSchool has already made this fix in the information system itself.

 

We were successful in the 2019 update in getting the fields that had been restricted to 'Mother' and 'Father' revised to include any number of adult guardians and contacts, in a number of different roles and relationships.

 

I would also be very interested in hearing whether any systems allow for a gender marker other than 'Male' and 'Female'. Right now, our administrators are having to choose how to categorize students who are intersex or non-binary.

 

I am happy to provide contact information if you'd prefer to discuss off of this thread.

BrianD3
Rookie

Hi,

I'm located in Noca Scotia Canada, and we're currently on version 12 of PowerSchool. All of our public schools in the province are using PowerSchool as their SIS. To my knowledge, the pscore_legal_first_name and pscore_legal_last_name fields are core fields in PowerSchool. So these fields could be used to store students' legal name, while the first_name and last_name fields could be used for preferred name.

In addition to the male and female gender options, we've also added a non-binary gender option - which was made available to clients during one of PowerSchool's upgrades last year.

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

Thank you, Nova Scotia! Those are exactly the fixes we're looking for, which are not offered in the current version that North Carolina is using.

 

It's a great help to know that the company has already worked out the tech aspect for both the name and the gender fields, so all we need to do is get the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to make the request for our next update. (All we need to do... ha! Y'all wish me luck!)

 

Is anybody in the US using a non-binary gender classification, and if so, how does your school or your state handle the federal reporting that requires students to be classified according to gender?

emartin
Hobbyist

Hi Craig,

 

I'm in NC and want to help push for this change.  Have you had any success/made any progress?  Any ideas who we should contact about getting a preferred name field?

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

Hi emartin-- Thanks for checking in.

 

There's actually been lots of development in this area, although the final result is still unresolved.

 

In March, when NC schools switched to virtual education platforms, the lack of a name field other than legal name in PowerSchool meant that those platforms defaulted to legal name, and revealed the transgender status of many students without their consent. More than 300 educators, students and parents signed on to a letter demanding that the state superintendent address the issue.

 

https://southernequality.org/as-transgender-students-experience-increased-privacy-risks-during-covid...

 

Although the fix seems relatively straightforward, and has been implemented in other states and provinces, the NC Department of Public Instruction seems to be making it difficult and complicated. However, there are some strong advocates on the NC Board of Education who have been championing the issue-- even in the midst of a pandemic.

 

I'd recommend getting in touch with the student information system staff for your school district, and finding out what the latest news is they have heard from DPI. Also, depending on your district, you might check district policy-- even if the fix is made in PowerSchool, a majority of NC school districts do not yet have a policy that assures using the affirmed names and genders of trans students.

 

Thanks and good luck!

 

 

emartin
Hobbyist

Thanks for this info!  I work at a small charter and was totally unaware of this advocacy; but I'll do a better job of following.  I'm the school counselor, PowerSchool coordinator and I guess would be the only one that qualifies as student information support staff.  I'd love to apply some pressure wherever it's needed, and I know our teachers would be eager to sign any future petitions/letters.  Feel free to loop me in if you ever have a need.

reynoldsn
Specialist

@MrsSantamaria @emartin @CraigWhite @BrianD3 @bdoucette 

 

Hello, this original post is dated 2019. We are close to 2022 now.  Has any progress been made is getting the preferred name added to the gradebook (in addition to the legal/official/birth certificate name)?

 

If not, how do we get the PowerSchool's attention to this?  Surely, someone has created a plug-in of some sort to allow faculty to use the student's preferred (or nick) name.

 

 

emartin
Hobbyist

Yes, there is a preferred name field in PowerSchool now for NC Public Schools.

reynoldsn
Specialist

Hi @emartin 

 

Is it in the PowerTeacher Gradebook and visible when a roster is printed?   How did you all get it to appear? 

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

In North Carolina, as of spring 2021, the First Name, Middle Name, and Last Name fields are for a student's affirmed or preferred name (if that is different than their legal name). There is a separate set of fields for Legal Name, which should be only pulled from when the legal name is required by law (ie, for a transcript). In general, any list or report that pulls from PowerSchool should be listing the student's preferred name automatically.

 

Some districts have a form for requesting a preferred name change; others, just an email or message to the administrative or counseling staff is all that is needed.

 

Many other states have this same system in place, but not all of them.

reynoldsn
Specialist

Hi @CraigWhite 

It seems like it may make sense to go thru support.  I'm not finding the preferred name field in the PowerTeacher Pro gradebook when I attempt to print a roster.

 

reynoldsn_0-1629833457610.png

 

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

If you are in North Carolina, and your district is using the fields correctly, the names you see should be the students' preferred names. I believe the field is simply listed as 'Name', not 'Preferred Name', because it is the student's name, even if it is different from their legal name. Your school's data manager should be able to confirm that the names listed are preferred names (which of course are often, but not always, the same as the legal name.)

fidofido76
Trainee

I am trying desperately to find out what to say when I can talk to the powerschool coordinator about changing my transgender Childs name for roll call. Several times a day he is revealed by his dead name and this needs to stop. It is devastating. Any help is appreciated

reynoldsn
Specialist

Hi @fidofido76 

 

I connected with PowerSchool support and product development about this same issue this past Monday, Sept. 13.

 

They suggested an option which is to use these fields (in Powerschool) to house the student's legal names.   See fields 480-484 below.   This would open the traditional fields used now for the first_name, last_name, gender, etc. to house the student's preferred name, preferred gender, etc.

 

480. StudentCoreFields.PSCORE_LEGAL_FIRST_NAME

481. StudentCoreFields.PSCORE_LEGAL_GENDER

482. StudentCoreFields.PSCORE_LEGAL_LAST_NAME

483. StudentCoreFields.PSCORE_LEGAL_MIDDLE_NAME

484. StudentCoreFields.PSCORE_LEGAL_SUFFIX

 

Best wishes to you on this journey.  Let me know if I can help further.

CraigWhite
Hobbyist

I'm so sorry to hear that is happening to your child. Unfortunately, it's not rare. Fortunately, the US Dept of Education has released some very clear guidance on protecting the rights of transgender students. I'd suggest taking a look at the resources here:
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html

 

Please note the 'Supporting Transgender Youth' and 'Confronting Harassment' resources in particular.

 

The most relevant federal protections are Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity) and FERPA, which offers privacy protections.

 

I hope these resources are of some use. If you live in the Southeastern US, I may be able to provide some additional guidance.