You are correct that covenants not to compete are highly disfavored in California. However, you should take care that you are not using any proprietary information obtained from your prior employer. I recommend that you speak with an attorney and have the attorney review the agreement that your former employer claims that you signed.
The clerk is not under an obligation to help litigants. Sometimes they do, but then it is just as a favor. They are actually precluded from doing anything that could be interpreted as legal advice. With the budget crisis in the court system, they have trouble getting the work done as it is. You may need the assistance of a lawyer to resolve this.
Make sure you have done the mandatory credit counseling course prior to filing. Otherwise you have to file a "skeleton" petition which can be an added and unnecessary complication. Also, make sure that you evaluated your entire financial situation in terms of bankruptcy. Timing is everything, and despite the trial date (which could get postponed) it might be better to wait to file bankruptcy.
I agree that you must address this with school officials. If you do not get a satisfactory response, continue to go up the chain to the superintendent. Do not expect your 11 year old son to know how to deal with this situation, or to determine when it is or is not justifiable to use force in self-defense. He could easily be suspended or expelled.
Personal property including records can be subpoenaed, or as noted above, required to be produced in a deposition. You have no attorney client privilege if you are representing yourself. If there is material in the notebooks that does not relate to the case, you may be able to remove that information. However, you are in serious danger of potential sanctions from the court if you are not completely forthcoming with opposing counsel. Remember, as a general rule, judges do not appreciate...
Lien stripping can often be accomplished with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, you have to qualify for filing bankruptcy and there are many factors involved in that determination. Please see a local bankruptcy attorney.
There is a presumption of employment. You should file for unemployment. You may have other claims if, for example, you did not get paid overtime, or if you were not provided duty free meal or rest periods. There are also penalties for misclassifying workers as independent contractors.