FERPA Portlet

FERPA Portlet 1 of 2

FERPA Portlet 2 of 2

Brief Description

Portlet for Employees to check FERPA authorizations before speaking with a proxy/parent.

Planning implementation and achieving results

In the Fall of 2014 we wanted to improve how people were checking for FERPA Authorizations before talking to people on the phone or over email. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is an important law that gives students many rights when it comes to their privacy. So it was very important that we gave staff an easy-to-use system for checking for these permissions because status quo was that they had to dig through 2 or 3 systems depending on the information that was being asked.

The end result was the portlet you see in the screenshots above. You can type a student ID in the box and hit Submit. After you hit Submit, the portlet returns a list of boxes with all the people the student has authorized to view their information. It shows their relationship to the student, the email and date of birth for verification purposes, and the list of approved items. It also displays warnings and notices for legacy data for students that attended USD prior to the implementation of this system.

Influencing, communication and teamwork

Once I was assigned to this task, my first step was to read the actual FERPA legislation and review the guidelines listed in USD's website. Once prepared, we discussed the possibilities with a committee of Deans and staff members. They all decided which permissions belong to which items.

I also defined a document with which systems needed to be polled for which permissions and coordinate with my coworkers to implement new secure Web Service for these systems.

Lastly, I bounced design ideas with another colleague. I definitely could not have done it without him. The final design was run by my manager, director, and of course the stakeholders.

Analysis, problem solving and creative thinking

It was important that the information was easy to review. If you are calling Financial Aid or the One Stop Office, you don't want to be put on hold. So the decision was made to make all the fonts large and green/red with checkmarks. This makes the information very easy to review at a glance.

It was also important that staff members adhered to the law. We display additional information in the portlet to remind staff members that they need to check the verification questions.

Once we got the design down, the hard part was tracking all the info that flag if a user has authorized permission or not. We created web services for each of the items and we return a boolean for their permissions. The users were very pleased with our solution.