- A viral video claims a Texas family had their 4-year-old son Drake Pardo wrongfully taken by Texas DFPS
- According to the Texas Home School Coalition, DFPS has ignored both state and federal rights of Ashley and Daniel Pardo
- Currently the family has the support of lawmakers in Texas but DFPS is refusing to admit fault and nobody is holding the agency accountable
Across the country more and more problems with Child Protective Services are becoming painfully clear. In order for these CPS agencies — which operate under different names from state to state — to continue receiving their federal funding they have to be providing a child with “services.” At times their funding requirements lead agencies around the country to hastily remove a child from the home, even when lacking evidence of neglect or abuse.
This heavy-handed removal of children often leaves case workers overwhelmed with caseloads while children that are suffering from abuse or neglect are left to fend for themselves. One family in Texas is bringing attention to some of the internal issues with CPS after the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services appear to have wrongfully removed their 4-year-old son Drake Pardo.
Ashley and Daniel Pardo’s story should be shrouded in silence since a judge has placed a gag order over them that restricts them from speaking to the media or going public with their story. The couple cannot even make posts to their own social media accounts about their case. That is why the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) stepped in and decided to become a voice for family. Earlier this month THSC released a video on their Facebook page that has received over 1.6 million views.
According to the video, a friend of Ashley and Daniel has witnessed the horrifying removal of the Pardo’s 4-year-old son following a partial review of his medical files at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. The video claims DFPS justified the removal in court by claiming Ashley and Daniel did not show up to a meeting on June 10. There is one problem though. The Pardos were never informed about the meeting. DFPS also tried to push blame on the doctor who reported the family. The same doctor who said in court she never requested Drake be removed from the Pardo’s home.
Bring Drake Pardo Home
The website Bring Drake Home put together a timeline explaining how things escalated to this point they are at now. On June 6, Dr. Dakil claimed to have concerns for Drake despite his history with Children’s Medical Center. Based on her concerns, Dakil requested DFPS facilitate a meeting with Ashley and Daniel on June 10 to evaluate her concerns and discuss a treatment plan. Dakil allegedly later admitted her concerns stemmed from an incomplete review of Drake’s medical records.
The exchange between the Pardos and DFPS started with nothing too alarming. On June 7, DFPS left a business card on the Pardo’s front door. On June 9, the family received a letter from Family Rights Advocacy Director Krista Mcintire. Ashley and Daniel were informed Mcintire would be their advocate. Ashley, Mcintire and the caseworker began texting about the meeting Dakil had requested to be setup. The meeting never happened though, at least not with Ashley and Daniel in attendance.
The caseworker would later admit she never told Ashley or Daniel about the meeting because the family’s attorney had been combative towards her before the meeting. However, the family’s attorney allegedly did not speak to the caseworker for the first time until June 11, a day after the meeting Ashley and Daniel were never informed of. Ashley and Daniel did not even retain their attorney until June 11. Meanwhile, Mcintire referred the Pardos to speak with Johana Scot, director of the Parent Guidance Center. It was during that call that Scot suggested the family contact THSC, which they were members of.
On June 11 the Pardos had their first conversation, with Chris Branson, the CPS Special Counsel for THSC. Branson allegedly reached out to the DFPS caseworker to inform her of his representation and to request a copy of the allegations against the family as required by federal law. To Branson’s surprise, the caseworker refused to provide him the allegations over the phone and instead said he would have to drive from Houston to their office in Dallas. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act requires the agency to notify the parents — or in this case their attorney — of the allegations against them.
Emergency Removal Of Drake Pardo
Branson went on to contact the DFPS program director and their regional attorney. Both refused to provide him with the allegations against the Pardos. At that point Branson informed the caseworker that until he received a copy of the allegations DFPS was no longer allowed to make contact with the family. Meanwhile, DFPS contacted Dakil to request a written affidavit of the concerns she had mentioned during her initial report. A day after the request, on June 20, DFPS was at the Pardo’s front door with police to take Drake into custody under an “emergency” removal. Video of the removal can be seen below.
DFPS Refuses To Admit Fault
Despite claims of DFPS leadership being alarmed that Drake was removed from the Pardos without even meeting with the parents, the agency has yet to show any signs of standing down or admitting fault. On June 27, Ashley and Daniel attended a meeting with Dakil where the doctor allegedly stated the only thing Drake needed was for both of his parents to attend his medical visits and for his doctors to have better communication with each other. Despite Daskil and the family agreeing, DFPS did not feel it was enough for Drake to return home. On July 2, Judge Michael Chitty granted custody of Drake to CPS for up to one year. It is unclear why Chitty was the judge, as the removal order was signed by Judge Tracy Gray. It was at this court date the caseworker admitted she never told the parents of the June 10 meeting.
The Pardos then allegedly went to meet with DFPS on July 23 to construct a family service plan to get Drake home. DFPS attended the meeting with a pre-written case plan and allegedly ended the meeting 12 minutes later after the Pardos refused to answer question unrelated to the case plan. DFPS would request the case plan be mandatory through the court. At a court date on August 9, Gray — the same judge that signed the initial emergency removal — criticized DFPS for including “irrelevant and ridiculous requests in the service plan,” according to THSC. Gray eliminated all elements of the service plan objected by the Pardo’s attorney and said the parents were allowed to bring witnesses to their visitations with Drake. Before this point, DFPS prohibited the Pardos from bringing their own witnesses.
THSC also claimed the Attorney Ad Litem requested Gray no longer allow the organization to post about the case on social media. Gray refused the request since THSC is a non-party to the litigation which protects them from a gag order on the case.
Perhaps one of the most terrifying aspects of the Pardo’s case is the lack of accountability being held against DFPS. On August 12, an amicus brief was filed in support of the Pardos and had the support of Senator Bob Hall, Rep. Valoree Swanson, Rep. Matt Krause, Rep. Mayes Middleton, Rep. Scott Sanford, and Rep. Matt Schaefer. The amicus was filed in the Fifth Court of Appeals and detailed numerous violations of state and federal law. Despite the disapproval of lawmakers and the backlash they are receiving online, DFPS is still not backing down even though they have yet to explain any of their actions.