Hi folks. Thanks for the info and the kind messages. I've been out of pocket recently. So far so good.
First up -- here is the link for a copy the message I found on my answering machine Saturday night:
And a big THANK YOU to the cybergeeks who did that for me. If you want to help and have the ability, please mirror that for me. I'll add your links in later.
If you would, please someone make a slideshow using the audio and the transcript I posted earlier and post it to youtube. Please mirror that as well, and forward to anyone who might be interested in civil rights. Thank you.
Second -- DHS
According to the lawyer we hired to handle the DHS end, he spent three hours badgering them before they would even admit to having my name in their files. Then they wanted a release form. Then they spent even more hours giving him the runaround -- wrong person, wrong office, wrong directions et al. Then when he asked them to write down the complaint, they said a bunch of hooey but have so far refused to put anything in writing. ('m not surprised, because they never gave us anythign in writing either.) Some of the hooey isn't even legal in Mississippi.
They complained --
the house isn't clean enough, even though we cleaned it to their earlier (verbal) specs and got their (verbal) approval;
the floor isn't fixed, even though we repaired it to their earlier (verbal) specs and got their (verbal) approval;
(There was a background sense that we weren't acting "White enough", that we weren't living the way people of our socio-economic standing should live. That instead of buying a trailer and some land in the country, and building extensions as we went along, we should have "properly" bought a pre-made house in the suburbs and tied ourselves down with a huge mortgage. That we should buy all-new furniture instead of taking care of the old stuff we have. Apparently one can't be frugal and be a "good" person.
Some of the property is old, but it's all in good shape. The additions were built at above US Navy standards.);
that our homeschooled children needed to be tested to see if they were learning enough. THIS IS ILLEGAL IN MISSISSIPPI. Homeschooled children in Mississippi have to meet no testing requirements whatsoever: http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/Mississippi.pdf In fact:
"It is not the intention of this section to impair the primary right and the obligation of the parent ... to choose the proper education and training" for their children, and nothing in this section shall be construed to grant the State of Mississippi "authority to control, manage or supervise" the private education of children. "And this section shall never be construed so as to grant, by implication or otherwise, any right or authority to any state agency or other entity to control, manage, supervise, provide for or affect the operation, management, program, curriculum, admissions policy or discipline of any such school or home instruction program." Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91(9).
(The funny part of this is that when they asked to see the girls' schoolwork and I showed them their Singapore Math notebooks, Patti Young, aka DHS-1, couldn't even read the problems correctly out of my 9yo's workbook, and declared the 11yo's workbook was above her head.);
that our children need to be given a medical exam and vaccinated. Okay, we were holding off to see how the mercury content in modern vaccines was being handled, but the kids are old enough they may be safe. (I had an extremely bad reaction to an MMR shot once, and I was 21 at the time.) Still THIS IS ILLEGAL IN MISSISSIPPI. Only children entering the school system have to be vaccinated. http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,0,71.html
(Also there was an issue with the age of the vaccines. I was at the County Health Clinic one day when a batch of "fresh" vaccines arrived and was left sitting on the reception counter. They were already out of date and had been culled from another medical center, with all the proper markers for rejects. This sort of thing does not inspire confidence.);
that I am "too depressed" to "properly watch my children" or to "properly homeschool". THIS IS ILLEGAL IN MISSISSIPPI. There's no requirements for homeschool teachers in our state;
that I should send them a copy of any lease I sign anywhere else so they can check out my new home and so they can transfer my case instead of closing it.
They said (but didn't put in writing) that if I moved they would drop the case. That doesn't jive with the above statement.
The lawyer wants to comply with all this. I suspect much of it will actually evaporate when they have to put it in writing.
Third -- the matter of the break-ins and the Sherrif's Department's actions. We're still working on this end. Everyone who hears about it is horrified, but most don't want to get involved.
Gotta go. Please pass this story along to any homeschool advocates, including Mississippi homeschool advocates, the Mississippi state senator who chairs the education committee, and anyone else who may be interested. Thanks.