April 16-18, 2019

Dr. Anderson at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas refused to visit Drake Pardo (age 4), his patient, during a 3 day stay at the hospital.

Drake had been a patient at Children’s for several years. Immediately after this event, Ashley and Daniel Pardo, Drake’s parents, fired Dr. Anderson. Drake was reassigned to another doctor in the same office.

April 22, 2019

Children’s Medical Center issued a written response to the complaint from Ashley and Daniel, informing them that the complaint had been referred to the “Quality and Patient Safety Department” for review and that they would be contacted within 45 days with a written report to inform them of the result of the investigation.

Although Ashley and Daniel never heard from Children’s again on the subject, on June 6 (day 45), Dr. Dakil from Children’s Medical Center contacted CPS (Child Protective Services) to report the family.

Dr. Dakil would later testify under oath on July 2 that she had contacted CPS at the prompting of Dr. Anderson when he complained to her about the Pardo family after they fired him.

Dr. Dakil testified that, until July 2, she had been entirely unaware that Dr. Anderson was fired for refusing to visit Drake while he was in care. However, she testified that such refusal could be valid grounds for his termination.

June 6, 2019

In a call to CPS, Dr. Dakil asked CPS to facilitate a meeting with the family and Children’s on June 10 to evaluate the hospital’s concerns and discuss a treatment plan and possible feeding study with the family.

June 10, 2019

The June 10th meeting that was requested by Dr. Dakil never happened. According to the caseworker’s testimony, she intentionally never informed the family of the June 10 meeting requested by Children’s. The caseworker testified that her decision to not inform the family of this meeting was because the family’s attorney had been combative towards her.

However, the caseworker’s earliest conversation with the family’s attorney was not until he had been retained by the family on June 11.

June 10, 2019

Krista Mcintire referred the Pardos to Johana Scot, the Executive Director of the Parent Guidance Center. Johana spoke on the phone for several hours with the Pardos that night.

During their conversation the Pardos mentioned they were members of the Texas Home School Coalition. Johana recommended they call the Texas Home School Coalition immediately for legal representation.

June 11, 2019

The family first contacted Chris Branson, the CPS Special Counsel for the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC). Chris Branson emailed and spoke by phone with the CPS caseworker to inform her of his representation and to request a copy of the allegations against the family, as required by TAC 700.508 and the Federal CAPTA act, Section 5106(b)(2)(B)(xviii).

The caseworker declined to provide Mr. Branson with the allegations over the phone but informed him that if he would drive from Houston to Dallas to meet her in person, she would inform him of the allegations in person. As the Federal Department of Health and Human Services explains on their website, such a demand is a violation of federal law.

Chris Branson then contacted the CPS program director and the CPS regional attorney who both refused to provide the allegations.

Chris Branson informed the CPS caseworker that until he was provided with a copy of the allegations, CPS would not be permitted to speak with the family.

June 19, 2019

CPS requested that Dr. Dakil provide them a written affidavit listing the concerns she had mentioned during her initial report on June 6.

In her written affidavit, Dr Dakil raised questions about a number of past medical treatments Drake had received, although she did not claim any had been unnecessary and stated that she was unaware of the history on several of them.

Dr. Dakil stated in her affidavit that she had only reviewed medical records available at Children’s, had not reviewed all of Drake’s medical records from other facilities, and had not spoken with all of the doctors outside of Children’s who had made the various recommendations and diagnoses she was raising questions about.

Uncontested testimony at the July 2 hearing revealed that, without exception, every medical test, procedure, or condition Drake had ever received was diagnosed or recommended by at least one, often multiple, specialists in the field.

In her affidavit, Dr. Dakil made no requests for the removal of Drake and no claims of any imminent danger to Drake.

Instead, her sole recommendation was that Drake receive “additional workup” in order to establish whether or not he needed additional surgery in the future, a surgery which had been recommended by 6 separate doctors and was being considered by the family, but with which Dr. Dakil disagreed.

June 20, 2019

CPS arrived at the Pardo family’s door unannounced, along with uniformed police officers, and conducted an “emergency” removal of Drake.

CPS provided a signed emergency order from Judge Tracy Gray as justification. Even as they were forcibly removing Drake from his home, CPS still refused to inform the family of the allegations against them.

June 27, 2019

Ashley and Daniel Pardo attended a meeting with Children’s Medical Center at the request of Dr. Dakil.

Dr. Dakil explained in the meeting that, in her opinion, the only thing Drake needed was for both his parents to attend his medical visits and for his doctors to have better communication with each other. The family agreed.

Immediately afterward, CPS entered the meeting. When informed of this agreement between Children’s and the family, CPS stated that it was not good enough and they would still need to keep Drake.

July 2, 2019

Judge Michael Chitty held an adversary hearing where he granted custody of Drake to CPS for up to a year, despite CPS having failed to prove every single legal requirement outlined in Texas law.

It is unclear why Judge Chitty conducted the hearing, rather than Judge Tracy Gray, who signed the original order of removal on June 20.

In testimony, CPS provided two justifications for their “emergency” removal of Drake:

Reason 1. The family had failed to attend the June 10 meeting with Children’s Medical Center. However, CPS testified they intentionally never informed the family of that meeting.

Reason 2. CPS claimed that the concerns listed by Dr. Dakil in her June 6 report justified an immediate need for removal of Drake. However, CPS did not remove Drake until two weeks later on June 20. Furthermore, Dr. Dakil testified that there was never an emergency, she had not asked for the removal of Drake, and she was not sure how her recommendations for Drake’s care could be met while he remained in state custody.

Uncontested testimony at the hearing revealed that, without exception, every medical test, procedure, or condition Drake had ever received was diagnosed or recommended by at least one, often multiple, specialists in the field.

Furthermore, CPS admitted under oath that they decided to remove Drake from his home knowing that they had not pursued numerous alternatives that could have resolved the situation peacefully. Nevertheless, Judge Michael Chitty allowed CPS to keep Drake for up to a year.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Chitty placed a gag order on Ashley and Daniel Pardo, forbidding them from making any public comments about the case or their son.

July 23, 2019

Ashley and Daniel Pardo met with CPS to construct a family service plan, as required by Texas law. A service plan is a list of items which a family is required to complete before having their child returned home.

The law requires that CPS and the family jointly construct the service plan. However, CPS attended the meeting with the plan already pre-written, dated, and finalized.

CPS ended the meeting after just 12 minutes when the family refused to answer questions completely unrelated to the service plan.

CPS subsequently submitted the service plan to the court, asking that it be made mandatory for the family.

August 2, 2019

The Pardo’s attorneys filed two motions seeking emergency intervention from the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas.

First, the family filed a Writ of Mandamus, detailing how Judge Chitty abused his discretion and violated the Pardo’s constitutional rights. The Writ asked the Court of Appeals to intervene and dismiss Judge Chitty’s order.

Second, the family filed a Motion To Suspend, asking that the court place an immediate hold on Judge Chitty’s order while the parties waited for the appellate court’s response to the mandamus.

The Court of Appeals replied within hours, ordering CPS to file a response by August 12.

August 9, 2019

The family appeared at a status hearing before Judge Tracy Gray, the same judge who had authorized the original emergency removal. Texas law restricts the items which can be discussed at a status hearing and only allows discussion of the family service plan.

In testimony, CPS asked that the court force Ashley and Daniel to make a complete admission of guilt and acknowledge “severe” mental health problems before they could have Drake returned to them.

Even though state law requires a service plan to be constructed collaboratively with the family, the CPS caseworker testified that at the time of her first service plan meeting with the family, she had already constructed and finalized the entire service plan.

When asked if CPS had followed their own guidelines, as well as state and federal law, in the process they used to construct the service plan, CPS responded “no.”

Judge Tracy Gray criticised CPS for including irrelevant and ridiculous requests in the service plan, eliminating all elements of the service plan objected to by the Pardo family’s attorneys.

Additionally, Judge Gray ordered CPS to start allowing the family to bring witnesses to their regular visitation meetings with Drake, something CPS was doing for themselves but which they were prohibiting the family from doing.

The Attorney Ad Litem asked Judge Gray to prohibit THSC from posting any information about the Pardo case on social media. Judge Gray refused, reminding the Ad Litem that there was no prohibition on THSC posting information about the case. As a non-party to the litigation, THSC cannot be bound regardless.

August 12, 2019

CPS filed its response with the Fifth Court of Appeals to the Pardo’s emergency Writ of Mandamus, again asking that the court allow CPS to keep Drake. In the response, CPS again acknowledged that Ashley and Daniel Pardo intend to give Drake the exact same medical care he has received in CPS care.

August 22, 2019

The Fifth Court of Appeals rejected the Pardo’s request for emergency relief without explaining how the trial court’s abuse of the Pardo family was justified. Given the makeup of the Fifth Court of Appeals, this was expected by the family’s attorneys, who plan to take the case to the TX Supreme Court.

August 30, 2019

The Pardo family’s attorneys filed an emergency Writ of Mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court, asking the Court to intervene and put a stop to the abuses of the family being allowed by the district court. The petition asks the court to immediately return Drake to his family because the district court failed to follow the law when, at the July 2 hearing, it refused to return Drake home.

The family’s brief to the Texas Supreme Court explains, “The law is settled: parents enjoy Constitutionally-protected rights to the possession, care, custody, and control of their minor children. Even temporary and partial interference in a parent’s custody of his or her child has serious, Constitutional ramifications. In order for the State to interfere in those rights, the State is required to follow Constitutional and statutory requirements to the letter, which did not happen in this case.”

The family’s attorneys also filed an emergency Motion To Suspend, asking the Texas Supreme Court to halt enforcement of the district court’s July 2 order while the Supreme Court considers arguments on the mandamus.

August 30, 2019

The Texas Home School Coalition filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the Pardo family. The brief was signed by a bipartisan coalition of 22 lawmakers and 5 prominent statewide and national organizations, all asking the Texas Supreme Court to order the immediate return of Drake to his family. The following lawmakers signed the brief supporting the Pardo family:

  • – State Senator Brandon Creighton, Chair of Higher Education
  • – State Senator Donna Campbell, Chair off Veteran Affairs and Border Security
  • – State Senator Charles Perry, Chair of Rural Affairs
  • – State Senator Bob Hall, Chair of Agriculture
  • – State Senator José Menéndez
  • – State Senator Pat Fallon
  • – State Representative Dan Huberty, Chair of Education
  • – State Representative Harold V. Dutton Jr., Chair of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues
  • – State Representative Jeff Leach, Chair of Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
  • – State Representative James White, Chair of Corrections
  • – State Representative Matt Krause
  • – State Representative Briscoe Cain
  • – State Representative Jonathan Stickland
  • – State Representative Mayes Middleton
  • – State Representative Valoree Swanson
  • – State Representative Candy Noble
  • – State Representative Mike Lang
  • – State Representative Bill Zedler
  • – State Representative Scott Sanford
  • – State Representative Matt Schaefer
  • – State Representative Steve Toth
  • – State Representative Matt Shaheen

The brief was also signed by 5 statewide and national organizations:

  • – Texas Eagle Forum
  • – Texas Pastor’s Council
  • – Grassroots America, We the People,
  • – Texas Values
  • – Concerned Women of America

The brief details the long history of the constitutional right of parents to raise their children and explains the state’s utter failure to follow the constitutionally required rules to protect that right, concluding that “Private citizens cannot be allowed to use CPS as a weapon to settle their disputes. . . . The laws in question have been designed to protect this first and most important relationship in a child’s life. If they are not enforced, then they are nothing more than great, but impotent ideas buried in dusty books in a law library. To avoid the pervasive attitude that there is little risk in ignoring statutory requirements and violating parents’ rights in these cases, mandamus must be granted swiftly to correct the erroneous rulings in this case.”

September 4, 2019

Heritage Defense Foundation filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Pardo family. The brief explains in detail how CPS manufactured the alleged “emergency” which CPS then relied on as grounds for removing Drake from his home.

“In this case, the urgency relied upon by the Department to justify removal was unlawfully and unreasonably created by the Department in two ways. First, the Department violated state and federal law by refusing to notify Relators of the allegations against them. Second, the Department failed to inform Relators of a request of the reporting doctor and then used Relators’ inevitable “noncompliance” to falsely convince the doctor that the family was being uncooperative, thereby prompting the doctor to immediately prepare the affidavit which the Department then used to justify removal. . . . Because the alleged urgency which served as grounds for removal was manufactured, the Department failed to demonstrate that an urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child. Additionally, the Department’s misconduct also constituted failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal. Consequently, the child must be returned to his parents.”

September 17, 2019

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national non-profit organization, filed an amicus brief in support of the Pardo family, arguing that the Texas Supreme Court must intervene to overturn the unconstitutional gag order placed on Ashley and Daniel by the district court.

In the brief, ADF explains how no notice was given that the gag order would be sought and points out that “The gag order must be stricken because no evidence whatsoever was introduced to show that the order was needed, nor did the trial court make the required specific findings to justify a gag order.”

The brief summarizes the issue by stating: “If the attorney ad litem met her burden of proof that a gag order was needed; if the trial court made specific findings explaining the need; if the evidence and findings demonstrated an imminent, irreparable harm to the judicial process; if there were not post-speech remedies available; and if the resulting gag order stopped the harm to the judicial process by the least restrictive means, then, and only then, should this Court affirm the gag order. But not one “if” was satisfied. Instead, the precious free speech birthright of all Texans, forged in the fire of revolution and carefully protected by this Court through the ensuing generations of Texans, has been unjustly denied to Ashley and Daniel Pardo. Meanwhile, their family unity hangs in the balance. Under article I, section 8 of the Texas Constitution, this Court should vacate the trial court’s unconstitutional gag order.”

September 18, 2019

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) filed an amicus brief in support of the Pardo family. The brief details how CPS violated both state and federal law by refusing to disclose the allegations to the family and subsequently fabricating an emergency as a justification for the removal of Drake.

The brief opens by explaining how, “The record in this case clearly shows that not only did DFPS fail to meet the statutory burden imposed upon it by Texas law, its conduct of the investigation into the allegations against Ashley and Daniel Pardo violated both state and federal laws intended to protect the Pardos’ constitutional rights in the care, custody, and control of K.D.P.” TPPF then demonstrates in detail how CPS’s conduct violated both state and federal law. “During questioning, Ms. Sims and her supervisor, Ms. Erica Larry admitted that they both had, on multiple occasions, refused to provide the Pardos or their attorney, Mr. Chris Branson, with notice of the allegations. Ms. Sims further testified that the reason for the refusal to provide the allegations was a Department policy that requires caseworkers to only discuss allegations in a face-to-face meeting. This policy violates both Texas and federal law.”

The brief was signed by a bipartisan list of 12 state lawmakers, including:

  • – Senator Bob Hall, Chair of Agriculture
  • – Senator Donna Campbell, Chair of Veteran Affairs & Border Security
  • – State Representative Joe Moody, TX House Speaker Pro Tempore
  • – State Representative Valoree Swanson
  • – State Representative Matt Krause
  • – State Representative Mike Lang
  • – State Representative Jeff Leach, Chair of Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
  • – State Representative Mayes Middleton
  • – State Representative Candy Noble
  • – State Representative Scott Sanford
  • – State Representative Matt Schaefer
  • – State Representative Matt Shaheen

 

October 4, 2019

Judge Tracy Gray held a hearing at the Kaufman County Courthouse where she approved having Drake taken out of foster care and sent to stay with a new caregiver requested by the family. The caregiver had also been Drake’s physical therapist for over a year and was well acquainted with his medical needs.

The family’s attorney requested the hearing after CPS repeatedly failed to complete a home study on the proposed caregiver, despite the court having previously ordered that the home study be completed by August 23. When the family’s attorney finally requested a hearing to enforce the judge’s previous order and end CPS’s slow-walking of the home study, CPS suddenly filed their completed home study with the court mere hours later.

At the beginning of the hearing, the attorney Ad Litem expressed her strong opposition to having Drake placed with the new caregiver but admitted when questioned by the judge that she had neither spoken with or attempted to speak with the caregiver for an interview before making her decision.

In the home study report and at the hearing, CPS argued against placing Drake with the new caregiver based on an evaluation of Drake done by a CPS psychiatrist. The CPS psychiatrist testified that, in her opinion, Drake “believed he was sick” but was not actually sick. However, under questioning the psychiatrist admitted that she had not actually spoken to any of Drake’s physicians or observed any such behavior from Drake herself. Instead, she testified that she had based her report and recommendation on information told to her by the foster parent, who had received it from CPS, but which she had made no attempt to verify herself.

While CPS has repeatedly claimed that Ashley and Daniel fabricated Drake’s medical needs, it was admitted on the stand that Dake is currently receiving 3 types of therapy, including physical therapy for being in-toed. At the initial July 2 hearing and repeatedly since that time, CPS has argued that Ashley and Daniel push Drake around “everywhere” in a wheel-chair and made him use unnecessary ankle braces. On the stand, Drake’s physical therapist explained that Drake had been referred to her by doctors at Children’s and that she gave Drake weekly treatment for over a year because he fell into the bottom seventh percentile in her assessments of his developmental milestones. As a result of being in-toed, Drake used ankle brace inserts in his shoes. The therapist also testified that she had only ever seen Drake’s wheelchair once when it was brought to her for help with adjustments. As explained at the July 2 hearing, the wheel-chair was proscribed for the specific purpose of allowing Drake to self-propel if he had been out walking long distances, such as during trips to the zoo or navigating large hospitals during extended day visits. In light of the testimony of Drake’s therapist, CPS offered no explanation for their repeated claims that Drake’s medical needs were fabricated.

Judge Gray dismissed CPS’ concerns related to the new caregiver placement and stated that she had “no problem” with Drake living with his former therapist, especially since Drake was currently receiving physical therapy. She also underscored how it was beneficial that Drake would be returning to a more familiar environment.

October 18, 2019

The Solicitor General of Texas submitted a brief to the Texas Supreme court, arguing that the gag order against the Pardo family was “plainly unconstitutional” and should be reversed. The Solicitor General, who works for the Texas Attorney General, argued in the brief that arguments provided to explain the need for a gag order were “threadbare” and that it did not justify “the substantial infringement on First Amendment rights” against the Pardo family.

Although the Solicitor General argued that the gag order should be reversed, he also suggested that the trial court should be required to clean up its own mess and reverse the gag order itself, rather than the Texas Supreme Court intervening and ordering a reversal. The Solicitor General also declined to take any position on the other issues presented in the case, specifically whether the removal of Drake was justified. Instead, he argued that the law governing Drake’s removal was clear and uncontested and that the dispute between the parties was a question of how the law should apply to the facts. For this reason, the Solicitor General declined to take a position on the subject, leaving the issue to the Texas Supreme Court for resolution.

October 24, 2019

The Texas Supreme Court responded by issuing an emergency stay ordering that the trial court immediately send Drake back home. In the order, the court stated that “the Department of Family and Protective Services has not shown ‘a substantial risk of a continuing danger’ to [Drake] if he returns home. . .” The court explained that “The trial court’s temporary orders are stayed to the extent they deny the immediate return of [Drake] to his parents’ possession, pending further action by this Court.”

The order granted Ashley and Daniel the ability to immediately pick Drake up and take him home.

However, the Supreme Court’s stay order did not dismiss the CPS case and the state will still be involved in the family’s life.  The battle to get the CPS case closed entirely, end the witch hunt against the Pardos, and hold CPS accountable will continue. The TX Supreme Court has yet to rule on the family’s petition for mandamus relief. The stay order will remain in effect until the court releases its opinion on the mandamus, which will likely be within the next few weeks.

December 3, 2019

CASE DISMISSED

CPS officially dropped all charges against the Pardo family, walking away from the case completely and ending the family’s 6 months of abuse by the agency.

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.

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 the 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.

On December 3, 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.

April 28, 2020

The Pardo’s attorney request an internal review of the caseworkers decision to list her official finding against the Pardo family as a “reason to believe” that child abuse or neglect took place. A reason to believe finding automatically places a family on the Child Abuse Registry

June 22, 2020

CPS officially denied the family’s request to have the “reason to believe” finding overturned and the family removed from the Child Abuse Registry.

In CPS’s official denial, they failed to offer any explanation for why, in December of 2019, they dropped all charges against Ashley and Daniel and specifically said that they were comfortable with the parents making joint-medical decisions for Drake, but are now claiming that they have reason to believe child abuse and neglect actually did take place.

August 3-11, 2020

THSC President Tim Lambert sent a letter to DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters urging her to intervene on behalf of the Pardo family and have them removed from the Child Abuse Registry. The letter was co-signed by a bi-partisan coalition of 26 lawmakers and policy leaders.

On August 11, Commissioner Masters responded with a letter saying that DFPS would allow the Pardo’s appeal to go through the normal process with the Office of Consumer Relations and that she would not intervene outside of that process.