Drake Pardo (age four) was illegally taken from his family by Child Protective Services (CPS) on June 20. The Pardos are a homeschool THSC member family. THSC attorneys Chris Branson and Julie Jacobson are now representing the Pardos and are attempting to return Drake, a medically fragile child, back to his family.
CPS first made contact with the family on June 7, leaving a business card on the family’s door. Two weeks later, after repeated attempts by the family and their attorney Chris Branson to obtain any information about the case, CPS suddenly declared an “emergency.”
Two CPS caseworkers and four armed police officers arrived unannounced at the Pardo family’s home and took Drake, still refusing to give the family any information about the accusations against them.
At the time of the removal, advocates from Family Rights Advocacy and the Parent Guidance Center were live on the phone, attempting to de-escalate the situation.
In a rough cell phone video captured by the family, the Pardos remained calm but can be seen challenging the caseworker’s claim to a two-week delayed “emergency” and the decision to suddenly remove Drake. Drake’s father, Daniel, can be heard for several minutes attempting to keep Drake calm as he is placed into the police car and as he asks repeatedly why his father is not coming with him.
The CPS caseworkers allowed the family to take photos of a signed affidavit which they claimed as justification for the immediate removal of Drake. However, the caseworkers would not provide the family with an actual copy. The affidavit appeared to be signed by a doctor from the Dallas Children’s Hospital, where the family had periodically taken Drake for treatment.
On April 22, nearly two months prior to this horrific incident, the Pardos had filed an official complaint against the Children’s Hospital for the poor treatment of Drake by several of the hospital’s doctors. They informed the family that they would review the matter and resolve it within 45 days. On day 46, with the family still having heard nothing from the Children’s Hospital, CPS showed up at the family’s door with an affidavit signed by one of the hospital’s doctors.
The removal of Drake was in clear violation of state law because CPS:
- Refused for nearly two weeks to provide the family with any information about the accusations against them. This was a violation of TAC 700.508.
- Claimed that there was an immediate danger to Drake which required an emergency removal, despite CPS having already delayed for two weeks. This was a violation of Family Code 262.102.
- Failed to make any reasonable efforts to avoid the need for removal, such as by failing to conduct any interviews with the family or to offer any alternatives to the removal of Drake. This was a violation of Family Code 262.102.
Since the removal of Drake, the Pardos’ two other children have been fearful of any strangers who enter the house and have asked why their brother was taken.
After five days of forced and illegal separation from their four-year-old son Drake, Ashley and Daniel Pardo were given the chance to meet with him briefly during a visit on Tuesday. Drake, a medically fragile, special-needs child, was elated to see his parents and asked repeatedly if he was allowed to go home with them. His parents were forced to explain to him that this would not be possible.
In a heartbreaking display, Drake spent about 15 minutes of the visit with his parents reenacting the moment when CPS removed him from his home, asking his parents to pretend to knock on the door and scare him when it opened. Drake periodically switched roles and pretended to knock on the door and scare his parents.
The illegal removal of Drake Pardo was a state-sanctioned kidnapping.
We can’t let them get away with breaking the law and abusing the Pardo family. We need your help to #BringDrakeHome.
So, what can you do to help?
The homeschool community has often rallied to defend each other from state overreach. It’s time to do it again. THSC is raising money to cover the costs of what could be a very expensive legal defense for the Pardos. We need to raise $50,000 to bring Drake home.
Here is what you can do to help #BringDrakeHome:
- Donate and sign the petition to #BringDrakeHome.
- Call Governor Abbott and tell him that Drake Pardo was illegally removed from his family and that Texas needs Governor Abbott to make CPS reform a priority during the legislative interim and during the next legislative session in 2021 (check the action tool below for instructions).
- Pray for the family and for Drake’s safe return.
It is easy to invade one home at a time. If we let them get away with this, they will do it again.
Help us #BringDrakeHome by donating, signing the petition and telling Governor Abbott to rein in CPS’s abuse of power.
This article first appeared on Texas Homeschool Coalition