It’s been over a month since Child Protective Services (CPS) removed four-year-old Kaleb (Drake) Pardo from his home. Now, several weeks after a court ruling that favored CPS, his parents and their lawyers are preparing to challenge the court’s decision.
The ruling on July 2 granted CPS temporary managing conservatorship.
If the family does nothing, the case could last another year before the permanency hearing, according to CPS policy.
In an attempt to expedite the process of bringing Drake home and exonerating the Pardos, the family’s legal team is preparing to file for a writ of mandamus from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dallas.
The legal move is essentially an appeal for an ongoing court case.
Marissa Gonzales, a media specialist with the Department of Family and Protective Services, told The Texan, “Specific details of CPS cases are confidential, but I can tell you the investigation stage is complete and Kaleb is currently placed in a foster home. The next court hearing is set for Aug 9.”
Gonzales also stated, “CPS was not ordered to complete any home studies on family members, but we have reached out to several relatives to ask whether they’d be willing to be considered.”
The Texan spoke with Chris Branson, the Pardos’ lawyer, about the hearing scheduled for August 9. He said that the hearing is the status hearing, which operates under the assumption that the parents are guilty of the allegations made against them.
Since Branson does not believe the Pardos are guilty of medical child abuse, they are proceeding with the mandamus request.
Background of Case
Since the case began, it has been full of complicated legal and medical claims and accusations.
However, based on multiple reports of the testimonies provided at the adversarial hearing on July 2, there are some undisputed facts.
The CPS caseworker initially tried contacting the Pardo family on Friday, June 7 and left a business card on their door.
The caseworker was investigating concerns of medical child abuse reported by Dr. Suzanne Dakil, a child abuse pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas (Children’s).
Specifically, Dr. Dakil was concerned that the family would seek a doctor outside of Children’s to have an unnecessary G-tube surgery for Drake.
Dr. Dakil wanted Drake to be admitted to the hospital on June 10 so that doctors could evaluate him and determine if such a procedure was needed.
After Drake’s mother, Ashley Pardo, saw the CPS business card left on the door, she called the caseworker.
They set up a meeting for June 10, but the caseworker testified that she could not communicate to the family that Dr. Dakil wanted Drake admitted to Children’s for an evaluation.
The Pardos reached out to Krista McIntire, the director of Family Rights Advocacy, for support.
McIntire requested the caseworker disclose the allegations made against the family, but the caseworker denied her request.
Ashley Pardo and McIntire canceled the June 10 meeting. It was then rescheduled for June 18.
Chris Branson, a lawyer working on behalf of the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) for its members in CPS-related cases, started working with the family that week.
Branson contacted the caseworker and her supervisor to ask for the allegations, but his requests were also denied. He canceled the June 18 meeting.
On June 18, after Dr. Dakil had been on leave for a week, she asked the caseworker why Drake had not been admitted to the hospital on June 10.
The caseworker asked Dr. Dakil to write an affidavit addressing her concerns and picked it up the following day.
On June 20, a judge in Kaufman County signed an affidavit for an emergency removal of Drake.
The caseworker and police arrived at the Pardos’ door on the same day to remove Drake. The incident was recorded on video by the parents and published by THSC.
After the removal, CPS admitted Drake to Children’s for evaluation.
An adversarial hearing took place on July 2, with Judge B. Michael Chitty presiding over the hearing. The court granted the request of CPS for temporary managing conservatorship of Drake.
Judge Chitty also ordered the parents to undergo a psychological evaluation and encouraged them to fully cooperate with Children’s and CPS.
State Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) attended the hearing and said the ruling was “the most egregious display of injustice” that he has seen, as CPS presented “zero evidence” against the family.
The judge placed an injunction on the parties involved in the case, restricting them from posting anything about the case on social media.
Two major points of contention arise to the forefront of the case: is this a legitimate instance of medical child abuse and has CPS handled the situation properly and legally?
The Texan will examine those two critical questions in greater detail in future installments as we follow this ongoing case.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.