Child Protective Services (CPS) ignited a controversy in June of last year when they removed four-year-old Drake Pardo from his family’s home while refusing to disclose what child abuse allegations had been made against his parents, Ashley and Daniel Pardo.
While Drake was ultimately reunited with his parents and the case was dismissed by a family court in December, the Pardos’ names are still included in the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.
Inclusion in this registry will show up in background checks and can prevent an individual from employment or volunteering.
According to the Department of Family and Protective Services’ (DFPS) policy handbook, “an individual is included in the central registry when the investigation resulted in a disposition of ‘reason to believe’ in a CPS or CCL investigation.”
Although the DFPS handbook notes that individuals who were “not found to have caused child abuse or neglect are not included in the central registry,” those determined otherwise by the agency at some point in the investigation — even if the case is dismissed by the courts — are kept on the registry.
During the Texas legislative session in 2017, the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) — which assisted the Pardos in their legal fight with CPS last year — supported a bill authored by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) to reform the registry by providing ways to remove names.
While Klick’s bill died in committee, another bill authored by former Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) and Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) was passed by the legislature in 2017 and amended the state family code to provide three ways for a name to be removed from the registry:
- “an administrative review or an appeal of the review conducted under Section 261.309(c);”
- “a review or an appeal of the review conducted by the office of consumer affairs of the department; or”
- “a hearing or an appeal conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.”
THSC stated on Tuesday that the family’s attorneys are currently pursuing the second option by appealing to the office of consumer affairs.
“CPS protects thousands of children every year who desperately need their assistance, but this type of abuse of innocent families causes the agency to become the source of harm to a child instead of that child’s protector,” stated THSC.
A spokesperson for DFPS declined to comment on the Pardo case saying that “specific reviews are confidential,” but provided a link to more information about the process of an administrative review in the department.
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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.