Yesterday, July 2, Judge B. Michael Chitty ruled against Ashley and Daniel Pardo of Kaufman County and in favor of Child Protective Services (CPS) who removed their four-year-old son, Drake, from their home on June 20.
Judge Chitty issued a gag order on the parents, but others in attendance at the hearing can speak freely.
State Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), who attended the hearing on Tuesday, said the ruling was “the most egregious display of injustice” that he has seen. Hall said CPS had “zero evidence” in their case against the family.
According to a phone call with the family’s lawyer before the hearing, the Pardos discovered after Drake was removed that the allegations made against them were of medical child abuse, referring to a situation wherein parents exaggerate or even contrive medical conditions of their child.
Hall said that this was the main accusation of CPS during the hearing, saying that they argued that “the parents wanted unnecessary medical treatment” for their son.
A doctor from the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas had initially signed the CPS affidavit making the allegations.
One specific point of concern for the doctor was the parents’ claim that their son had autism since the doctor was not aware of any comprehensive diagnosis.
On Thursday, June 27, the Pardos and their advocates met with Children’s Medical Center.
Ashley and Daniel presented medical records at the meeting to clarify why they believed their son had certain medical conditions, including a letter from another doctor who had diagnosed Drake with autism.
After seeing the documentation, the concerns of the hospital about the potential medical child abuse were said to be resolved.
When the family finished discussing the medical records with the doctors, representatives from CPS joined the meeting. The hospital informed CPS that their concerns had been addressed, but CPS told the family that the investigation would need to continue.
“No one in the CPS process that caused this to happen — whether they were doctors, CPS workers, or anybody else of the whole thing — no one had actually seen or talked to the child, or had seen or talked to the parents,” said Hall.
Hall noted that during the hearing it seemed obvious that “[Judge Chitty’s] mind was made up, before the trial even started.” He said that the manner in which the judge interacted with each side made it “obviously very slanted.”
The Texan reached out to CPS and the office of Judge Chitty for comment on their involvement in the case, but no responses have been given at the time of this writing.
Children’s Health said that they do not comment on specific patients per HIPAA regulations and their own policy.
A request to the Kaufman County Courthouse for a copy of the removing affidavit was also made last week without reply.
CPS has been under scrutiny several times in the past year for the way they have handled cases.
In November of last year, the Houston Chronicle reported on Judge Mike Schneider in Harris County who ordered CPS to pay $127,000 for unlawfully removing a child and lying in court.
CPS attempted to appeal the decision, but in May dropped their appeal.
The Chronicle also reported on a CPS employee in Harris County who quit his job immediately after discovering that his supervisor committed perjury by signing a first-person report that he had written and submitted it to a court in order to remove a child — a decision made without the knowledge or approval of the caseworker.
As for the Pardo case, Ashley and Daniel are expected to challenge the court’s decision with continued help from their lawyers, the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), and Family Rights Advocacy.
This is a developing story. For more information, please see the other articles published by The Texan linked to in the timeline below.
- June 20: CPS removed the child from his family.
- July 2: The district court issued a gag order on parties involved and ruled in favor of CPS, granting them temporary managing conservatorship.
- August 2: The Pardo family brought the case to an appellate court, petitioning for a writ of mandamus to have Drake released from CPS custody.
- Read also: a detailed analysis by The Texan on the accusations of medical child abuse against the family and accusations against CPS of conducting the removal illegally.
- August 9: A status hearing (separate from the case in the appellate court) was held at the district court. The court instructed CPS to rewrite the family service plan—the way in which Drake could be returned to the family apart from a mandamus—jointly with the family after the testifying caseworker admitted she had violated CPS policy by not including the family in the formation of the first plan.
- August 21: The appellate court denied the family’s petition for a writ of mandamus.
- August 28: The family’s lawyers brought the request for mandamus to the Texas Supreme Court.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.