MISSISSIPPI, April 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) announced today that it is fighting a request by a Mississippi judge for the names and addresses of all homeschoolers in the state.
On March 23, 2011, Judge Joe Dale Walker of the Chancery Court of the Thirteenth District in Mississippi issued an order requiring attendance officers in five counties to provide the court with the names and addresses of homeschoolers in that district. The order gave them 10 days to comply.
Area homeschoolers first heard of the request upon receiving notice by mail at the beginning of April and many immediately contacted HSLDA.
Judge Walker’s letter cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and asked the families to notify the attendance officer in their county by April 8, 2011, as to whether they intended to initiate legal action to prevent release of the information.
“The order has no case number, no county of venue, and lists no parties to any dispute. It appears to be simply information that the judge would like to have,” said HSLDA. “We do not know why Judge Walker is seeking this information, but we believe it is an inappropriate use of judicial power.”
HSLDA has contacted the local Mississippi counsel, Sharkey Burke of Anderson Crawley & Burke, pllc, in Ridgeland, Mississippi and filed a Writ of Prohibition and Emergency Motion to Stay in the Supreme Court of Mississippi on April 5.
The Supreme Court stayed all proceedings in the case April 6 and ordered Judge Walker to respond by April 18 to explain by what authority he issued his order.
HSLDA says it is uncertain how the Supreme Court will proceed after receiving Judge Walker’s response. “[The court] may simply issue an order disposing of the case or may require legal briefs and/or oral argument before issuing a final decision,” said the organization.
The homeschool group said it considers the Supreme Court’s action in issuing the stay to be a positive development in their effort to protect the privacy of homeschoolers in Mississippi.