Nearly five months after 4-year-old Drake Pardo was removed from his home by two Child Protective Services officers in Texas, Drake has been reunited with his parents after the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency stay.
The family says their son was kidnapped, while CPS claims that he wasn’t being taken care of properly.
While the emergency stay issued on Oct. 24 allowed Drake to go home with his parents, the case is still ongoing.
The latter gained national attention earlier this week when a Dallas jury ruled in favor of a mother who wanted to medically transition her 7-year-old son into a girl.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also wrote a letter on Oct. 24 to Trevor Woodruff, the Acting Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, expressing his concern over the department’s discernment in both cases, but more specifically the Younger case.
“We are especially concerned that the Department has yet to intervene in this matter where a mother is using alleged medical professionals to fundamentally alter her son’s physiology, when earlier this year the Department did not flinch and snatched another North Texas child from his family because it was alleged that the mother was engaged in similar practice,” Paxton wrote, referencing the Pardo case.
“The lack of consistency and principled application of the Family Code to protect child is troubling.”
Drake Pardo was removed from his home on June 20, with his parents receiving little to no warning.
In a video that captures the moment the boy was taken from his home, the 4-year-old can be heard saying, “Can I take my daddy?” after being asked if he’d like to take some toys with him.
According to the Texas Home School Coalition, which is representing Drake’s parents, Daniel and Ashley Pardo, CPS requested the emergency removal after the family failed to attend a CPS-facilitated meeting at Dallas Children’s Medical Center.
According to an affidavit document sent to The Western Journal by DFPS, CPS claims that Ashley Pardo is “displaying symptoms of Munchausen syndrome by proxy,” a mental illness in which an individual treats and cares for another as if they are sick when he or she is not.
Pardo was accused of “exaggerating and lying about [her son’s] symptoms and conditions” as well as changing doctors when they do not agree with her.
These claims are based on a report from a doctor at Dallas Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Dakil, who never treated Drake herself. Her report was based on claims from Dr. Anderson, whom the Pardo family fired in April after he refused to see Drake during the child’s three-day stay at the hospital.
On July 2, Judge Michael Chitty held an adversary hearing in which he not only granted custody of Drake to CPS for up to a year, but also placed a gag order on the Pardo family, keeping them from publicly speaking out about the case.
During this hearing, a CPS official also stated under oath that CPS had not explored other alternatives, like an intervention meeting, before removing Drake.
CPS, however, told The Western Journal in an email that Drake’s placement in state care was “done legally under a court order.”
Tim Lambert, the president of the Texas Home School Coalition, told The Western Journal that this case really just boils down to a disagreement of doctors, but that that should not be enough grounds to remove a child from his home.
“You have more rights as a criminal in a criminal proceeding in court than you do as a parent in a CPS investigation,” Lambert said in September.
“This case is a good example of that because CPS refused to tell the family what the allegations were. They refused to follow the law, state and federal law, both in the investigation and the removal of the child as well as the family plan.”
According to THSC, the Supreme Court ordered the reunification of Drake with his parents after CPS failed to provide substantial evidence of continuing danger that justified keeping him in the state’s care.
Even though Drake has been returned home, the CPS case has not yet been closed and the family is continuing to fight against CPS’ claims.
“The response from the Texas Supreme Court validates what the family has argued from the beginning, this removal was illegal, unnecessary, and an abuse of power by CPS,” THSC’s director of public policy told the Western Journal in a statement. “If CPS had admitted their error at the beginning of this case, they could have saved Drake and the Pardo family four months of trauma.
“Instead, they chose to save face at the expense of Drake and the Pardo family. Now Drake is home, where he should be. CPS should close this case and end their witch hunt.”
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