On June 20, two Child Protective Services officers in Texas showed up to the home of the Pardo family to remove their 4-year-old son, Drake.
The family says their son was kidnapped, while CPS claims that he wasn’t being taken care of properly. Drake currently remains separated from his family in the state’s care.
In a video that captures the moment the boy was taken from his home, Daniel and Ashley Pardo were confused when they opened the door to two CPS officers. The officers had a signed emergency order from Texas Judge Tracy Gray that justified the removal, according to the Texas Home School Coalition.
Despite their heartbreak and confusion, Drake’s parents obliged and sent their son with his proper medication. They weren’t the only ones who were confused, however.
The 4-year-old can be heard in the video saying, “Can I take my daddy?” after being asked if he’d like to take some toys with him.
According to THSC, 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,” which is 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 Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Dakil, who never treated Drake herself. Her claims were based off a report from a 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.
The affidavit also characterized Daniel Pardo as “reasonable,” but claims that he is rarely around due to his job.
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.
The Pardo family’s lawyers at the Texas Home School Coalition claim that CPS didn’t properly inform the family of the missed meeting and that CPS failed to meet legal requirements for the removal, which is why the family and their lawyers are continuing to fight to bring Drake home.
Tim Lambert, the President of the Texas Home School Coalition, argues that the crux of this case is actually a disagreement between doctors.
“When doctors have a disagreement over treatment, is the family guilty of child abuse?” he asked the Western Journal. “I don’t think so. I think families should be able to choose their doctor and they should be able to look for second opinions.”
After the hearing, on July 23, the Pardo family met with CPS to construct a family service plan which would lay out exactly what needed to happen before they could be reunited with Drake. Texas law requires that the family service plan be a collaborative effort between CPS and the family, but according to THSC, CPS wrote the plan prior to the meeting and ended the meeting after just 12 minutes.
On August 9, Judge Tracy Gray — the judge who originally signed the emergency removal order — oversaw a status hearing where he reviewed the family service plan. CPS admitted that it had formed the plan without the Pardo family and Judge Gray eliminated the plan’s “irrelevant and ridiculous requests.”
Drake is still not home and his family is still fighting to make that happen.
Others, like Texas state Sen. Bob Hall and the Heritage Defense Foundation, have filed amicus briefs on behalf of the family and are continuing to speak out on what they consider an example of government overreach.
Hall called this case “an egregious miscarriage of justice” and even wrote three opinion pieces about it.
“You have more rights as a criminal in a criminal proceeding in court than you do as a parent in a CPS investigation,” Lambert told The Western Journal. “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.”
CPS, however, told The Western Journal in an email that Drake’s placement in state care was “done legally under a court order.”
The Pardo family filed a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court of Texas at the beginning of September, but until Drake is reunited with his family THSC will continue to help build recognition of the case online through social media.
“We’re not interested in defending child abusers,” Lambert said. “CPS does function and should function in a way to remove children from dangerous or abusive situations, but the law’s in the place to require CPS to follow due process so that they do not remove children who shouldn’t be removed.”
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