The homeschooling parents of a young boy who was wrongfully removed from his home in 2019 have finally been dropped from Texas’ registry of “child abusers,” officially closing the high-profile case.
According to reports, Ashley and Daniel Pardo were removed from the list this week — one year after Child Protective Services dropped its five-monthslong case against the parents.
In a statement, Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Homeschool Coalition, applauded the move.
“CPS protects thousands of children every year, but they didn’t protect the Pardo family or Drake; they traumatized them. It is unconscionable that the agency would drop all charges against the family but then keep the family on the Child Abuse Registry anyway," Lambert said.
"The agency did the right thing by reversing that decision, removing the Pardos from the registry, and finally giving this innocent family a much-needed respite from this traumatic battle,” he added.
The Pardos' battle with CPS began in June 2019, when CPS staff, aided by uniformed police, entered the Pardos home and seized their medically fragile 4-year-old son, Drake, taking him into protective custody.
According to the Pardos, authorities did this with no explanation and did not give them any information about the allegations against them.
After the removal, the Pardos discovered that the allegation made against them was of medical child abuse. Under this condition, a parent will exaggerate or fabricate illnesses to have a child medically treated.
The saga began when the couple filed a complaint against a doctor who was treating Drake — who has a variety of medical conditions — and asked for a second opinion.
Following a six-month ordeal, during which Drake was placed in a foster home, CPS dropped its case after failing to prove any danger which justified keeping the child from his parents. Drake returned home, and all charges were dismissed against the parents.
However, the agency kept the family on the Child Abuse Registry — a designation that shows up on background checks, and can prevent the family from obtaining employment or even volunteering at their child’s school and church activities.
In April 2020, legal counsel for the Pardo family filed an official administrative appeal of the CPS’ decision to keep the family on the registry, but the request was denied.
Following this denial, the family filed a second appeal to the Office of Consumer Relations, an office within the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, which is tasked with reviewing appeals of this nature.
Lambert sent a letter to DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters co-signed by a bipartisan coalition of 26 lawmakers and policy leaders, urging that the Pardo family be removed from the registry.
In the letter, Lambert contended that being on the Child Abuse Registry “carries a naturally damaging cultural stigma because, as the average Texan would reasonably presume, such a registry is home to individuals who commit horrible crimes against their children, such as starving, beating, torturing, or killing them.”
“The fact that an entirely innocent family against whom CPS dropped all charges could be placed on such a registry and have their lives and professional futures forever marred by this stigma shocks even the most rudimentary sense of justice,” he wrote.
Last week, Masters sent an official notice to the Pardo family that their appeal had been granted and they were being removed from the Child Abuse Registry.
After the Texas Homeschool Coalition launched its campaign to defend the family, numerous lawmakers, opinion leaders, advocacy organizations, and tens of thousands of families also came to their defense.