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Mississippi Judge Demands Homeschoolers' Identities

by Staff
April 11, 2011
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PURCELLVILLE, Va., (christiansunite.com) -- Judge Joe Dale Walker of Mississippi's Chancery Court of the Thirteenth District issued an order on March 23, 2011, requiring school attendance officers to provide him with the names and addresses of all homeschoolers in the district.

There was no case before the court. The order contains no case number. And the order lists no parties but is styled only "RE: HOME SCHOOL." The order says that the "cause came on for hearing on the Court's own motion," but apparently no hearing was ever held. The order is the only document in the Court file.

After attendance officers in the affected counties received the order, they mailed letters to all homeschoolers on April 1, 2011, enclosing a copy of the judge's order. The letters cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and asked the families to notify the attendance officer by April 8, 2011 if they intended to initiate legal action to prevent release of the protected information sought by Judge Walker.

Members of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) received the letter on April 4th and immediately notified HSLDA. HSLDA partnered with Mississippi lawyer Sharkey Burke of Anderson, Crawley & Burke, pllc in Ridgeland, who filed an emergency writ of prohibition in the Supreme Court of Mississippi on April 5th. The petition asks the Supreme Court to declare Judge Walker's order to be void.

"We believe that Judge Walker's order is an inappropriate use of judicial power," said Michael Farris, Chairman of HSLDA. "We trust that the Supreme Court will act quickly on the Emergency Petition."

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