Turning PowerSchool’s Parent/Student Portal On and Off

It’s the simps: In the District, under Setup select District. On the next page, under District Information, select Miscellaneous. At the very bottom of the page, find the checkbox for Disable Student and Parent Portals/Mobile Apps and check/uncheck as appropriate.
If turning the portal off, be sure to edit the message just below the checkbox.

Get notification when Autocrat fails to run

We have several leave request forms that get processed by the Autocrat Add-on. Inevitably, Autocrat seems to get stuck and fails to run. This is an issue for us when staff are submitting forms expecting that they will be acted upon while our crack team of support staffers remain unaware that the requests have been submitted.

Whenever Autocrat runs, a note logging successful completion is written into the cell in the last row, last column of this spreadsheet. If this cell is blank, Autocrat has failed to execute. So, I came up with this little script. It checks the form responses spreadsheet’s last row and column every 6 hours (adjustable). If that cell is empty, indicating an Autocrat failure, an email is sent to me which looks like this:

Click here for the script I use to do this.

PowerSchool – Teams for Teachers, Students, Courses and Sections

PowerSource article 6185 walks the user through setting up Teams in PowerSchool. Of particular interest is the comment from Laura Cowart about mass assigning students to teams (below). Team lists with ID numbers are found with the “Teams” link on the left of the PowerScheduler page.

Select all the students for Team "A" by hand from a larger group, say 8th grade, then navigate to the main PowerSchduler page. Select Functions and choose Update Selections. 

This is a mass change utility so you'll want to take some care here. Set your table to Students and verify that you have the correct number of students (the number you just selected by hand) in your current selection of records. If you're not sure, click on the blue link List Students to see the students included in your current selection. Click on Scheduling Functions from the breadcrumb trail, then Update Selections again from the Functions menu to return to where you can update the records.

When you're ready to make the change, click on the blue link Modify Records and choose Sched_NextYearTeam from the dropdown menu. Set the value to the ID number of the team you want to populate (find the number by clicking on Teams, under Parameters, on the left of the main PowerScheduler page) and then click Modify Selected Records on the lower right.

To retrieve a list of students from a certain team, use a search like this on the Students page: Sched_NextYearTeam=2781.

Pre-filled Google Forms for verifying student/demographic information

Our school’s PowerSchool data is jacked. Student names that should be separated with first, middle and last names are all inconsistent and we don’t have one field for preferred or “English” name. Parent email addresses and phone numbers change over time and our data has not been updated regularly.

To address this, we will send a pre-populated Google Form out to parents asking them to verify and update the data in our system. Once we’ve received the updates, we’ll upload changes into PowerSchool.

To create the prepopulated forms, we first export our current student and parent information into a spreadsheet. Then we create a Google Form with questions that match up with the various fields from the export. In the Form Responses spreadsheet, we paste the information from our data export and add a custom script (evenBeterBuildUrls()) taken from this stackoverflow question from user Mogstad. The script is also posted here.

This script creates a new column in the Form Responses spreadsheet with a link to a prepopulated version of the form containing our current demographic information (student & parent names, email addresses, street addresses, phone numbers, etc.). The link to the prepopulated form then gets emailed to parents using a mail merge on that spreadsheet.

Parent responses get appended to the spreadsheet and I use a Conditional formatting rule to highlight information that has changed. Changes are pulled into another sheet which we massage a bit before uploading again to PowerSchool.

Once completed, we’ll have correct, current information necessary for communicating with our community. This process will be repeated each fall to ensure that we’re working with accurate, current data.

Android File Manager: Marshmallow/P

To connect my Pixel XL running Android P on my iMac running High Sierra I go into Developer Options, click on Default USB configuration and select File Transfer.

On Marshmallow (7.11) I go into Settings > Developer Options > Select USB Configuration and select the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) option.

Developer Options   Select MTP Mode


Macfusion allows you to mount a folder on an ftp server as a local drive. Files can be read, edited and written to the remote folder just as if they were on the local drive.
I set this up because I am taking a programming class from Udemy and use different computers in different locations when I’ve got time to spare and I want my files to be where I want them when I want them.
Macfusion has been problematic with Sierra, but luckily there are some fellers who worked things out. I used ElDeveloper’s Sierra Pre-Release 3 version and the most recent version of OSX Fuse.

Then there are just a few things to set up. On your Mac, you need to create a folder accessible to Macfusion. I created a Volumes folder under my user account: /Users/paulericksen/Volumes/

Then in the Macfusion app, I configure things as follows.

  1. Add an SSHFS connection using the [+v] dropdown menu.
  2. In the SSH tab, enter your host, ftp username, password and path to the folder you’d like to use.
  3. In the Macfusion tab, enter the folder name you’ll use during the session. In my case it was /Users/paulericksen/Volumes/fs  NOTE: Notice above, when I created the “Volumes” folder in my user folder, it did not include the “fs” folder I just entered. My understanding is that this is a temporary folder that Macfusion creates during the connected session. It is there when the ftp share is mounted, but it disappears once it is unmounted.   
  4. If all goes to plan, when you click the mount button, Macfusion will do its thing and you’ll end up with a folder that shows the contents of the ftp folder. Opening, editing and saving works as it would on your local machine.


GAM – Google Apps Manager

GAMADV-xtd3 is a command-line tool for managing Google domains and it works very well for many things. This is a list of some tasks I use from time-to-time.

  1. Put users into an OU. The target OU in this case is iPads – Pangyo, a subgroup of our Organizational Emails OU. I put a list of usernames into a text file (ipads.txt) saved in my GAM folder and ran the following in Terminal:
    gam update org "Organizational Emails/iPads - Pangyo" add file ipads.txt
  2. Suspend Google accounts of departed faculty: create a one-column file departed.csv with header Email containing departed faculty email addresses.
    gam csv gam update user ~Email suspended true
  3. Find all groups with suspended users: We notice that suspended users still show up in mail groups. In order to identify and remove them, the following will list all groups followed by the number (and emails) of suspended accounts still appearing in each group. In the latter list, if one sees something like:
    this means that sususer01 & 02 are suspended accounts that are still members of the group groupname.
    gam print groups members suspended
  4. Remove Suspended Users from all groups: Along with the previous tip, to remove a user from all groups, just use:
    gam user sususer01@domain.com delete groups
  5. Using GAM with Multiple Domains: I use GAMADV-XTD3 with two Google domains. Once one is set up, the other can be added by editing the gam.cfg file to have the following lines at the end:
    domain = facultydomain.edu
    customer_id = facultyDomainCustomerID#
    config_dir = faculty

    domain = studentdomain.edu
    customer_id = studentDomainCustomer#
    config_dir = students
    Then create sub-folders faculty and students. In each folder, place the respective client_secrets.json and oauth2service.json files.

Banning Google Group Members from Receiving Email

At KIS, we assign our school-owned iPads Google accounts. But since they’re in our staff domain, they’re automatically added to our allstaff email group and receive all the email sent to that group. We don’t want these emails to show up in the iPad mail app and needed a way to remove those addresses from the group mail list. This is the method we use:

First access Google Groups Service for the allstaff group by selecting the group in the Google Admin Control Panel, clicking “Manage users in allstaff” and clicking “View in Groups service”.  On the next screen, click on the Manage link.

On the left-hand menu, select Direct add members.

Add the accounts you wish to eliminate from the list.


Select those recently added members and from the Actions menu select Ban.