- July 16, 2019—Pardo case update: 4-year-old still separated from his parents
- July 9, 2019— A Gag Order?
- July 2, 2019— Holding CPS Accountable for Drake Pardo’s Removal
July 16, 2019
Pardo Case: Next Steps
This tragedy should not have happened…
Some of you may not have heard about the horrible tragedy involving the Pardo family in Kaufman County, Texas. Child Protective Services (CPS) violated multiple laws and protocols in removing the four-year-old special needs son of Ashley and Daniel Pardo on June 20.
On July 2 a judge in Kaufman, Texas, shocked the nearly 100 supporters of the family in the courtroom when he ruled that CPS could maintain custody of the child. Here is a summary of what happened in the courtroom and how THSC is responding to thousands who are asking what the next steps are and how they can help the family.
Pardo Case Executive Summary
CPS admitted on the record that:
- They had multiple legal options available to them which they could have pursued other than removing the child, but they intentionally chose not to.
- The event which they claim created an “emergency” that justified the immediate removal of the child was that the family failed to appear at a June 10 meeting with the hospital—a meeting which CPS stated on the record they knew the family was unaware of and which they stated on record they never informed the family about.
- CPS also admitted that they had refused repeatedly to inform the family or their attorney about the accusations against the family. They said this was because the caseworker wanted the attorney to fly to Dallas from Houston so she could inform him face-to-face rather than on the phone. When their attorney refused to allow the caseworker to speak to the family until she complied with the legal requirement to inform him of the accusations, she testified that she considered the family to be “uncooperative” and that this motivated her to not tell the family about the June 10 meeting with the hospital.
- CPS stated on record that the only concerns that justified removal and justify keeping the child now are based on the concerns raised by Dr. Dakil, who filed the original affidavit. This is important because…
- She had never spoken to the family about her concerns before reporting them to CPS. Her concern that prompted her decision to report the family was that they might go to another hospital and trick the hospital into giving them treatment which Children’s Medical Center Dallas did not believe the child needed. Dr. Dakil also admitted on record multiple times that the family had never done anything to indicate that they might attempt this, and in fact that all four times the family had previously sought a second medical opinion, it was in an attempt to avoid giving their son treatment. Dr. Dakil stated on record that she knew her concern was entirely speculative and she reported it to CPS only because it was “possible” for it to happen. She stated that she had not considered the risk urgent, did not request that the child be removed and was surprised by CPS’s decision to remove the child.
- This “risk” is the risk that CPS claims justified their decision for an emergency removal and justifies their request to keep him now.
Well-intentioned observers often dismiss such abuses of power with the thought that “CPS protects children. Mistakes probably don’t happen often.” While CPS protects many children, it is the job of the public to stand in the gap for innocent families when they get swallowed by the system.
CPS now has 12 months to dispose of this case (and could get a six-month extension if the court allows). A vigorous legal defense is being pursued to get the child returned to his family very soon.
A friend who was in the courtroom told me that she had heard about CPS abusing families and traumatizing children, but it was scary and sobering to actually see it take place in a Texas courtroom.
THSC plans to continue to stand by the Pardo family. This shouldn’t happen to any family. Thank you for standing with us as we fight for Keeping Texas Families Free!
Help us #BringDrakeHome by donating, signing the petition and telling Governor Abbott to rein in CPS’s abuse of power.
July 9, 2019
A Gag Order?Kaufman County CPS was in court on July 2 defending their illegal removal of the Pardo family’s young child on June 20. THSC staff and about a hundred homeschoolers, friends and family members were in attendance in support of the family.
This case raises numerous questions about judges in Kaufman County.
Did Judge Gray, who signed the emergency order to remove the child, know that the family had a lawyer who was in touch with CPS but not present at or notified of the initial hearing? Did she know that CPS failed to notify the family of a June 10 meeting that was then used as a justification for the taking?
Did CPS inform Judge Gray that they had refused to tell the family or their legal counsel for two weeks what the allegations were, in spite of being required by law to do so? Did CPS explain to Judge Gray that the doctor whose testimony they were relying on did not believe an emergency existed?
Judge Gray had been a judge at the time for barely six months. It is possible that she was misled by CPS, but we will never know because neither the family nor their attorney were notified, present or represented.
Judge Chitty, who presided at the 14-day hearing, is by all accounts an experienced judge. Did he recognize, as did others in the courtroom, that CPS did not meet multiple legal requirements for removing the child? Why then did he rule that CPS could retain custody when there was absolutely no evidence presented to justify doing so?
Based on feedback from those observing the proceedings in court that day, virtually no one believes this decision was justified. Sen. Bob Hall called the hearing “the most egregious display of injustice” he had ever seen and stated that CPS had “zero evidence” against the family.
Finally, why did the court issue a gag order? The court-appointed lawyer representing the child asked for the order to prevent public discussion of the case. She said it was to protect the child. Of course that begs the question: who will protect him from being kept from his parents when there was no evidence to warrant taking him in the first place?
The gag order is intended to squelch the public discussion about this case and limit the exposure of the obvious injustice perpetrated against this child and his family by the state of Texas.
So why is the family still separated from their child? Are Texas judges just afraid to reprimand CPS? It certainly seems that way. These are questions that need to be addressed.
THSC believes that the best place for children is in a home with a loving family. Due process must be followed to protect innocent children and families from being torn apart unnecessarily.
July 2, 2019
Holding CPS Accountable for Drake Pardo’s Removal
The Drake Pardo case is gaining a lot of attention as people all over the state continue to pray for this little four-year-old, a medically fragile child with special needs removed from his home and family illegally by Child Protective Services (CPS) on June 20th. The video of two CPS caseworkers accompanied by four police officers removing the little boy while his parents wonder why is heart wrenching.
The discussion on THSC’s Facebook page has a question that arises over and over. Why? Why did CPS take the child and the answer is they won’t say. CPS Attorney Chris Branson tried for almost two weeks to get CPS officials to comply with the law and tell him what the allegations were, but to no avail.
We are seeing this kind of situation all too often. It’s often referred to as medical kidnapping. This is an assault against the God-given fundamental right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Some sources say that it is not uncommon for CPS in Kaufman County (where the Pardo family lives) to ignore the law, CPS rules and protocols in this way.
And this leads us to the second most common question in this discussion: How do we hold CPS accountable?
The legal answer to that is that it is the judge who hears these cases at the local level to require CPS to follow the law and CPS guidelines. In the Pardo case, CPS used an ex parte hearing with the judge to get an order to remove the child. An ex parte hearing is one in which the family is not notified or represented. So CPS got to make their allegations and no one was there to give the family’s side.
The judge in this case has been in office for less than six months. We don’t know if CPS lied to the judge or if the judge did not ask for enough information. We won’t likely know until the hearing on July 2 when CPS must give justification for removing Drake and ask for continued custody or return of the child to the family.
Judges should be skeptical if CPS initiates a case and waits for two weeks before asking for an “emergency order” to remove a child. A judge is supposed to require state agencies to follow the law, not simply give them whatever they ask for. When they don’t do that, children like Drake and their families are hurt and traumatized.
We believe that a loving family home is the best environment for children. If you do too, please stay informed and be prepared to contact your legislators in support of CPS reform legislation. Also consider donating to Drake’s legal fund or signing the petition to demand he is returned home.