So here's an odd story in which the good guys triumph, in this month's HSLDA Court Report. They call it "The Case of the Missing Case," and for good reason.
It seems a judge (who remains unnamed) in Mississippi got a very serious case of SHS (Swelled-Head Syndrome) and issued, entirely off his own bat, a court order to local public school officers to send the court all the names and addresses they had on record of home schoolers in the thirteenth district. Yes, you understood that right. There was no case. No case number. No parties. The judge apparently woke up one morning, put on his black robe, looked in a mirror in his chambers, and said to himself, "Self, I think it would be really useful if we [this is the royal "we," you understand] had all the names and addresses of all home schooling students in the district." And the judge answered himself, "Why, self, what a brilliant idea. Be it so ordered." And so the decree went out that all the world should be enrolled.
The local SAO's (school attendance officers) were not happy about this. They sent letters to local home schoolers saying, "Stop us, before we reveal your information." In other words, they informed them of the court order and more or less begged the home schoolers to get a contrary order telling them not to release the information.
The home schoolers contacted HSLDA, naturally. After deciding that FERPA does not create a private cause of action to maintain privacy of personal information, the HSLDA lawyers decided against their first impulse--a federal filing. Instead they filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court had acted without authorization and moving for a stay of the lower court's self-generated order.
Meanwhile, a friendly neighborhood inhabitant of the Mississippi AG's office referred the HSLDA to the obscure case In re: Football Practice (yep, you read that right, too), which apparently had to be looked up the old-fashioned way, in the paper courthouse files. Turns out Mississippi seems to have this sort of SHS problem from time to time. A judge in the third district Chancery Court had, entirely off his own bat, ordered that football practice should cease. Once they had this case in hand, the HSLDA lawyers were quite sure that a petition for a writ of prohibition was the way to go.
After a stay, a brief request to the lower judge for his authority to issue the March 23 court order, and an exceedingly lame response from the judge, the Mississippi Supreme court vacated his order. Non-case closed. HSLDA 1. Power-drunk judge 0.
One moral of the story is that you can always find somebody who has x amount of power who wants to push the envelope to see if he can get x + [a heck of a lot more] power by sheer bluff. The world shouldn't be like that. But since it is, it's a good thing the HSLDA exists. If you're a home schooler, be sure to consider membership very seriously.