The Pardo family is on the Child Abuse Registry.
In December 2019, the Pardo family won the case Child Protective Services (CPS) had brought against them.
After a months-long legal battle in which CPS illegally removed the Pardo’s four-year-old, CPS finally agreed to completely dismiss the case after being chastised by the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) for their actions. No allegations against the family were ever proven.
But CPS is not accustomed to losing in the local courts. Now, the family is back in the agency’s crosshairs under a new form of vindictive punishment: permanent placement on the child abuse registry.
What is the Child Abuse Registry?
The Child Abuse Registry is a central database where CPS stores the names and information for families who are alleged to have committed abuse or neglect.
Once on the registry, a family’s designation as a “child abuser” stays on their record, shows up on background checks, and can prevent the family from obtaining employment or even volunteering at their child’s school and church activities.
Regardless of whether a family was ever found guilty of abuse or neglect, CPS has the sole authority to place a family on the registry. As with the Pardos, parents who are completely innocent can be dubbed “child abusers” at the will of CPS.
The Pardos Were Innocent, Yet They’re Still Punished
In October 2019, the SCOTX ordered the immediate return of Drake Pardo, who had been illegally removed from his family and placed in foster care for four months.
The SCOTX found that CPS had failed to prove there was any danger that justified keeping Drake away from his family.
Following the SCOTX decision, CPS agreed to completely dismiss their case against the Pardos. After a grueling legal battle that lasted nearly six months, the family had finally won.
However, it turns out that winning a case CPS brings against you does not prevent them from punishing you anyway. CPS has now placed the Pardo family on the state Child Abuse Registry, despite their victory in court.
THSC attorney Chris Branson, who is representing the family, challenged the agency’s action, but Texas law allows CPS to be the reviewer of its own decision.
CPS denied the family’s request to be removed from the registry.
The Fight for Justice Begins (Again)
Now, the family’s attorney is preparing to appeal the decision to the Office of Consumer Relations (OCR), a supposedly independent office within CPS tasked with reviewing these appeals.
The family is required to appeal the decision to OCR before they are able to challenge the issue in court.
When CPS declared its decision to keep the family on the registry, several revealing facts were discovered:
- CPS clearly contradicted themselves: When dismissing the Pardo’s case, the agency stated they wanted Drake’s father, Daniel, to be involved in making medical decisions for Drake.
- However, in CPS’ recent decision, they claimed that they had “reason to believe” that Daniel was guilty of child abuse and that Daniel should remain on the child abuse registry. CPS offered no explanation for this contradiction.
- The doctor, not a judge, decided the Pardo’s punishment: CPS and Dr. Dakil (who originally reported the family to CPS) maintained throughout the case against the Pardos that Dakil did not act as part of the agency’s investigative team and that her only involvement had been to express her concerns to CPS.
- However, in their recent decision, CPS admitted that Dr. Dakil was directly asked what the determination or “investigative finding” should be. As a result of Dr. Dakil’s recommendation, the Pardos were placed on the registry. Dr. Dakil not only accused the Pardos, but determined their punishment as well. Dr. Dakil reported the family to CPS even though she was not Drake’s doctor and had never met or seen Drake or his family.
- Their punishment was determined, but not their guilt: Last year, Dr. Dakil testified under oath that she never intended for Drake to be removed from home and that she did not know whether any child abuse or neglect had occurred.
- However, in their recent decision, CPS admitted that it was Dr. Dakil who stated there was “reason to believe” that abuse had occurred.
The Bottom Line: It’s Time to Stand Against Vindictive Injustice
After being chastised by the Texas Supreme Court and ultimately dismissing the case against the Pardo family, CPS and Dr. Dakil are punishing the family anyway.
Evidently, a family’s innocence is irrelevant to the question of whether they can be punished by CPS in such a permanent, life-changing way.
The family’s legal team is appealing to the Office of Consumer Relations, asking that the family be immediately removed from the registry. Together, we must demand that the Pardos be immediately removed from the Child Abuse Registry.
CPS abuse of innocent families must be stopped.
Last fall, tens of thousands of people rallied to defend the Pardo family from CPS’s unjust kidnapping of Drake. Together, we’ll stand up to CPS again and prevent them from continuing to abuse this innocent family.