KAUFMAN, Texas — Four year- old Drake Pardo who was removed from his Kemp home by court order on June 20 will remain in Child Protective Service’s custody according to a judge ruling on Tuesday, despite the family’s claim that the removal was “illegal”.
422nd District Judge Mike Chitty ruled with CPS to allow the agency sole conservatorship of the child pending further care and testing provided by Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
The Pardo family is being represented by Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) attorneys Chris Branson and Julie Jacobson, as they reportedly home school their older children.
According to a statement released by the family’s attorney prior to the hearing, “On June 20, CPS illegally removed Drake Pardo from his family, alleging an “emergency” despite having delayed for nearly two weeks since initial contact with the family.
On June 7, a CPS caseworker left a business card on the Pardo family’s door. After refusing to communicate with the family’s attorney for nearly two weeks, CPS showed up at the family’s door to remove Drake,” the release says.
According to the family’s attorney, CPS failed to meet virtually every legal requirement for an emergency removal under Texas Family Code 262.102 and TAC §700.508. They also aledge CPS refused to inform the family of the allegation, failed to make any effort to avoid the need for a removal (such as by failing to conduct any interviews with the family) and waited nearly two weeks before suddenly declaring the situation an “emergency” that warranted immediate removal without prior notice to the Pardos or giving them an opportunity to respond.
According to court documents obtained by inForney.com CPS asked for a court order to remove the child because they say Drake’s mother, Ashley Pardo, is “displaying symptoms of Munchausen syndrome by proxy”, a mental illness where a person acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick.
“Ashely has multiple physicians and switches doctors when she does not agree with their assessment. Ashley is exaggerating and lying about [her son’s] symptoms and conditions,” according to the affidavit. “Ashley is demanding an unnecessary surgical procedure to place a G-tube.”
The affidavit says two different Gastrointestinal doctors have advised against the procedure, yet the mother has been actively looking for a third GI doctor.
Included In the affidavit was a letter from Dr. Suzanne Dakil, MD. Dr. Dakil is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. A board-certified Child Abuse Pediatrician, Dr. Dakil is the Medical Director of the REACH (child maltreatment) Program at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
Dr. Dakil writes in the affidavit that Children’s Medical Center at Dallas has been treating the child since infancy and the mother has expressed concern for multiple problems over the years including: epilepsy, sleep apnea, immunodeficiency and fevers, autism, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, dysautonomia, developmental delays and problems with feeding and swallowing. Children’s Medical center says they have done exhaustive tests and evaluations that all returned as “normal”.
Dr. Dakil says Drake is currently being seen by multiple doctors and clinics within the Dallas area
“I am worried about medical child abuse for this child,” Dakil writes. “It is the recommendation of the GI team at CMCD that this child be admitted for feeding evaluation. Due to our concerns with mother, it is recommended that she not be present (or with limited presence) during this admission. We believe this is the only way to get a good understanding of his needs before any surgery takes place.”
Dr. Sakil testified for the state during Tuesday’s hearing that she continues to stand by her initial assessment and affidavit and believes that the child remains in danger of medical child abuse if returned to its mother.
Hospital staff testified that Drake has been ambulatory without the need of a wheelchair, is eating a regular diet without complications and has begun to master potty training since he was removed from his home. According to CPS documents obtained by inForney.com, the mother has had a history with CPS since 2009.
The Pardo family and their advocates, including THSC, are under gag order by Judge Chitty not to discuss the case, but Republican State Senator Bob Hall who attended the hearings gave a comment on their behalf and said the ruling was “the most egregious display of injustice” that he has ever seen. Hall reportedly said CPS had “zero evidence” in their case against the family.
Investigators close to the case say that the evidence against Mrs. Pardo is overwhelming and says Senator Hall’s comments about the agency are no more than “political theatrics”, citing that THSC and Senator Hall are both generously funded by the same source according to reports.
In February 2018 the Dallas Morning News reported that ‘The Wilks brothers of Cisco, southeast of Abilene, and political action committees they dominate have given nearly $540,000 to Hall’s re-election campaign — 55 percent of its total fundraising haul.”
“The Wilkses and their main PACs — Empower Texans, Texas Right to Life and Texas Home School Coalition — had plowed nearly $2.7 million into state races, mostly GOP legislative campaigns, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of campaign-finance reports to the Texas Ethics Commission. One-fifth of those dollars have flowed to Hall,” according to the article.
After hearing testimony from both parents, medical staff and CPS officials, Judge Chitty ruled that CPS would remain as sole temporary custodian of the child. He ordered Children’s Medical Center to continue to direct the care, evaluation and treatment of the child till further notice. He ordered the parents, Ashley & Daniel Pardo, to undergo psychiatric evaluations, attend family counseling and fully cooperate with the CPS officials.
The next hearing has not been set as of press time.