Earlier this month (December, 2019), Kaufman County Family Court Judge Tracy Gray signed a “dismissal agreement” between CPS and the Pardo family, after their case had reached the Texas Supreme Court.
This was the culmination of a 5-month high-profile battle between the Pardo family and CPS, who removed four-year-old Drake Pardo due to allegations of “medical child abuse” because the parents sought a second opinion from a different doctor for the medical needs of their young son. See our previous coverage:
Texas CPS Medically Kidnaps 4 Year Old Homeschooled Boy After Parents Complain About Poor Doctor Care
Judge Issues Gag Order Against Texas Family as CPS Refuses to Return Child Even After Hospital Admits There is No Emergency
The Pardo case received national attention, as the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) and their attorney got involved in the case, bringing wide-spread public awareness.
One of the Pardo’s state representatives, State Senator Bob Hall, also got involved, and has written some very powerful criticisms of Texas CPS. See:
Texas Senator Exposes Corruption with CPS and Child Abuse Doctors Over Medical Kidnapping of 4-Year-Old Child
The Pardo case was appealed by filing a petition for a writ of mandamus, which was denied by the appellate court, and was waiting to be heard by the Texas Supreme Court.
But the family settled with CPS before the Supreme Court ruled. Senator Bob Hall lamented:
“The bad news, if there is any, is that the agreement of CPS to end this case means that the Texas Supreme Court will not likely issue a final ruling in the case pending before them,” Hall said.
“This means that CPS will continue to be able to use the same underhanded and misguided tactics against other families without restraint or direction from the state’s highest court.” (Source.)
Here is the Texas Home School Coalition’s Press Release:
BREAKING: CPS Drops Case Against Pardo Family
On Dec. 3, Judge Tracy Gray signed an order officially dismissing the Child Protective Services (CPS) case against the Pardo family. This marked just over five months since the family’s nightmare battle with the agency began.
On June 20, CPS illegally removed four-year-old Drake Pardo from his family’s home, refusing to tell the family what the allegations were against them.
A five-month battle ensued in which CPS made repeated claims that Ashley and Daniel, Drake’s parents, had given Drake unnecessary medical care. Throughout the case, it became clear that all medical care Drake had ever received had been prescribed by his attending physicians, none of whom CPS had ever spoken to before deciding to remove him from his home.
In fact, at the subsequent hearing on July 2, CPS argued that the “emergency” which justified the removal of Drake was their concern that the family might seek medical care in the future which CPS believed might be unnecessary.
This was despite admissions in testimony that the family had never done such a thing before, had not indicated that they intended to do so in this case, and that the medical procedure in question was actually one which had been recommended to the family by multiple specialists.
Nevertheless, CPS dug in their heels. At the end of the July 5 hearing, the judge placed a gag order on Ashley and Daniel Pardo, preventing them from speaking about the case.
The story exploded.
We launched a viral video about the case that reached more than 2.4 million views. Thirty-two legislators and organizations signed briefs with the Supreme Court of Texas requesting immediate intervention to protect the family. The solicitor general of the state of Texas filed a brief supporting the family and calling the gag order “plainly unconstitutional.”
On Oct. 24, the Supreme Court of Texas intervened and ordered that Drake be immediately returned home because CPS had failed to prove any danger to Drake. However, although Drake was restored to his family, CPS continued its interference in the family’s life and its unfounded allegations against the family.
The Houston Chronicle released the results of an investigation showing that cases similar to the Pardo case were a recurring theme in Texas. The Texas House of Representatives called a legislative hearing to investigate the problem, as well as possible changes to the law that may be required.
Following the October order from the Supreme Court of Texas to send Drake home, the family’s attorneys and CPS negotiated possible versions of a “family plan, ” a document used in CPS cases to outline the action steps required before the agency will end their prosecution of a family.
Even after a reversal by the Supreme Court of Texas, CPS continued to demand that the family participate in invasive therapies on the claim that the family suffered from mental health issues, a claim for which even CPS’s own psychologist found no evidence.
The family’s attorneys refused.
Today, after several back-and-forths over multiple weeks and continued refusal by the family’s attorneys to compromise, CPS finally walked away and agreed to drop the case against the Pardo family.
With no evidence against the family, an entire state watching their every move, and a reprimand from the Supreme Court of Texas, CPS finally decided to call it quits. CPS agreed to the dismissal of the case if Daniel and Ashley will jointly make medical decisions for Drake, something the couple has always done anyway.
If only the Pardo family could walk away as easily as CPS has. Unfortunately, the trauma from this abuse by CPS will likely follow the family forever. While the celebration of this victory is appropriate, we also pause to consider the cost.
The Pardo family was dragged through court on baseless accusations for five months. It took more than $120,000 and countless hours from an entire team of experts to defend the family against CPS’s abusive actions.
It raises the sobering question: What about the families who don’t have that type of support? What about the families nobody ever hears from? Perhaps God is using the Pardo’s tragedy to bring light to what family advocates have argued for years: The system desperately needs reform.
Sometimes God’s providence is more clearly seen during times of misfortune—on the heels of a crisis that should never have been.
An entire state rallied to the defense of the Pardo family. The family’s team of legal and medical experts fought tooth and nail against the agency that was trying to destroy this family, and we won.
- The family’s incredible legal team spent hundreds of hours reviewing medical records, drafting legal documents, developing strategies, and defending the family in court.
- Dozens of lawmakers and organizations weighed in to support the family before the Supreme Court of Texas.
- Hundreds attended hearings to support the family and donated to cover their legal fees.
- Tens of thousands signed petitions to Governor Abbott and emailed their legislators asking for them to prioritize CPS reform.
- Millions viewed the viral video and helped spread the word.
This crisis should never have happened, but God used it to bring attention to the plight of families whose stories never see the light of day. Despite the traumatic nature of the Pardo’s story, we give thanks to God that he brought together an entire state to defend them and that he ultimately reunited the family.
There may have never been a more appropriate time to give thanks to God for his bountiful goodness.
As we all sit around our tables this holiday season, let us be truly grateful for family, for freedom, and for God’s abundant provision.
The Pardo family surely is.