A firm knock at the door from Child Protective Services in June 2019 kicked off a months-long nightmare for Texas parents Daniel and Ashley Pardo, bringing with it the couple’s then-indefinite loss of custody over their 4-year-old son, Drake.
The nationally reported legal battle to see Drake returned home should have ended that nightmare last December, when it resulted in an official dismissal of the case against the Pardo family by Kaufman County Court Judge Tracy Gray.
Instead, the dark clouds overhead seem unwilling to dissipate for the family.
According to the Texas Homeschool Coalition, a parental-rights-focused political action committee, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has returned to the drawing board in Drake’s case. The agency has placed Daniel and Ashley on the state’s Child Abuse Registry despite the two having been reunited with their son and cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.
“Last year, the Pardos suffered traumatic injustice at the hands of CPS,” the Texas Homeschool Coalition wrote in a statement received by The Western Journal late last month. “Drake spent four months in foster care, and the Pardos fought six months in court before finally being cleared of all charges.”
“Now this innocent family is being punished anyway,” the organization added, with one high-ranking member of the THC surmising it’s because Child Protective Services doesn’t “want to admit that they made a mistake.”
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services declined to comment on the situation to The Western Journal, citing the confidentiality of details pertaining to specific case reviews.
The Texas Homeschool Coalition took on Daniel and Ashley’s legal defense when the controversial custody battle officially began last year.
Months later, the organization is going to bat for the Pardo family again, rallying widespread public support for efforts to appeal what they deem to be an unjustifiable child abuse registration.
That registration, placing Daniel and Ashley Pardo beside those found guilty of neglecting and doing purposeful harm to children, reportedly does not require the opinion of any party aside from CPS.
According to THC, Daniel and Ashley Pardo’s placement on the registry under the classification of “child abuser” will appear on background checks and “can prevent the family from obtaining employment or even volunteering at their child’s school and church activities.”
Initial allegations of child abuse leveled against the parents stem from CPS claims that Ashley Pardo displayed “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.
In an affidavit received by The Western Journal at the time, Pardo was accused of “exaggerating and lying about [her son’s] symptoms and conditions” as well as wanton transition between family care physicians in order to fit her agenda for Drake.
The claims were based on a cursory case review conducted by the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas after previous doctors reported Ashley’s allegedly suspicious behaviors with regard to Drake’s health.
When the family didn’t show up to a CPS-ordered meeting during the summer of 2019 regarding the agency’s review and conclusions — the family attributed its absence to a misunderstanding about its reception of the order — the state moved to remove Drake from Pardo family custody.
Jeremy Newman, the THC director of public policy, has been consistent in acknowledging throughout the controversy that Child Protective Services does tremendous work in protecting at-risk youth across the United States.
But the agency’s continued unwillingness to let this particular case go in light of final litigation is an “egregious” act of arrogance, Newman told The Western Journal.
“I think what it comes down to is that they don’t want to admit that they made a mistake,” Newman said. “That’s kind of how I felt during the entire case the first time wondering, you know, why? Why are they pushing harder? Everyone knows they made a mistake.”
“The state attorney general, all these lawmakers, are coming out against them, and they’re still digging in their heels,” Newman said. “And I think that there’s a tendency when you get into a government agency to end up in this position where you feel like you can never admit error because admitting error is also admitting liability.”
“My guess is that they felt like they weren’t able to admit error, or at least they weren’t willing to,” he added.
“And you can kind of understand that until you look on the other side and realize, OK, but what that means is that you’re punishing a family that is innocent instead of admitting error — and then it just becomes egregious.”
For the second time, Ashley and Daniel Pardo are challenging their placement on the Child Abuse Registry with CPS’ independent Office of Consumer Relations.
According to the Texas Homeschool Coalition, the couple initially appealed to an internal review board within CPS, asking to have its “child abuser” classification expunged.
That appeal failed, forcing the parents to continue their battle.
The Western Journal’s Kayla Kunkel contributed to this report.
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