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Family Speaks Out After Judge Gives Them Resounding Win Against CPS in Battle Over Young Child

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Over six months after 4-year-old Drake Pardo was removed from his home by two Child Protective Services officers in Texas, a judge entirely dismissed the case against Drake’s parents and restored full custody to them on Dec. 3.

Drake’s parents, Daniel and Ashley Pardo, released a statement earlier this week about the outcome of the case and their hopes for similar cases in the future.

“While the celebration of this victory is appropriate, we also pause to consider the cost,” Texas Home School Coalition said following the long-awaited court decision. “The Pardo family was dragged through court on baseless accusations for five months. It took more than $120,000 and countless hours from an entire team of experts to defend the family against CPS’s abusive actions.

“It raises the sobering question: What about the families who don’t have that type of support? What about the families nobody ever hears from? Perhaps God is using the Pardo’s tragedy to bring light to what family advocates have argued for years: The system desperately needs reform.”

Drake Pardo was removed from his home on June 20, with his parents receiving little to no warning.

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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, 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 claimed 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.

Do you agree with the Pardos' statement that the state of Texas is creating victims, not protecting them?

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.

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.

During this hearing, a CPS official also stated under oath that CPS had not explored other alternatives, like an intervention meeting, before removing Drake.

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CPS, however, told The Western Journal in an email that Drake’s placement in state care was “done legally under a court order.”

On Oct. 24, a judge issued an emergency stay, which reunified Drake with his parents after CPS failed to provide substantial evidence of continuing danger that justified keeping him in the state’s care, according to THSC.

THSC’s director of public policy told The Western Journal in a statement that the court’s October decision to reunify Drake with his family validated the family’s argument.

“[T]his removal was illegal, unnecessary, and an abuse of power by CPS,” he said in October. “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.”

Even though Drake was home, their fight against CPS’s allegations lasted another month.

On Dec. 3, Judge Tracy Gray signed an order to dismiss the case against the Pardos.

The fight is over, but the family is now left with immense trauma to work through.

“Even with our case dismissed, it is hard to describe the case and the aftermath as anything other than devastating,” the family said in a statement sent to The Western Journal by THSC. “The state of Texas tore our family apart for almost 6 months and then walked away as if nothing had happened.

“We are left to repair the trauma that was inflicted on all 3 of our children and to attempt to recover from the months of overwhelming stress and fear that come with not knowing whether your family is about to be destroyed forever.”

Ultimately the family hopes that the case highlights the need for reform within the system.

“We pray that families going through what we’ve gone through will be encouraged that they can survive this crisis. But we also hope our story will help the public to understand the incredible cost that families are left to bear when the state wrongly accuses them,” the family continued.

“Unfortunately, the system is flawed, and we pray that light is shed upon this, and that through our heartbreaking journey and that of others who have already been in our shoes, that change can be made and that soon the system will only be protecting victims, and not creating them.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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