A 7-year-old Ohio boy who was taken away from his family by child protective services after his parents refused his school's demand to get him mentally evaluated has returned home after a court hearing on Wednesday, his parents have said.
In early March, Katie (stepmother) and Christian (father) Maple launched a GoFundMe account after their 7-year-old son, Camden, was taken by the CPS arm of the Ohio Office of Families and Children after officials at Bowman Primary School in Lebanon, Ohio, submitted allegations of neglect and abuse.
Weeks after Camden was removed from the home, the Maples were finally united with their son on Wednesday. The Maples wrote in an update to their GoFundMe page on Thursday that a judge ordered Camden to be returned home.
"All allegations of neglect or abuse have been found 'unsubstantiated' and the CAC interview with our youngest son went well without any concerns," the Maples wrote in the update.
The family's troubles started when Camden was being disruptive in class during the last week of February. Camden was sent to the guidance counselor's office where he told the counselor that "he was upset because he felt that he was bad and wanted to erase himself from the Earth."
When the guidance counselor asked Camden how he wanted to kill himself, Camden responded by saying that he would stab himself in the eye with a knife. Alarmed by the child's statement, Camden's parents were called and Christian Maple picked up his son from school.
After a long talk with their son, the Maples determined that Camden didn't really want to hurt himself but just said the remark just to "get a rise out of the counselor" and see what the counselor would say.
"Camden only said he would stab himself in the eye after the school counselor asked him how he would erase himself from the Earth. She asked that leading question to prompt that answer from him. He had never said anything like that before or after this incident. He is in no way suicidal, nor has he ever been," Christian and Katie Maple told The Christian Post in an email Thursday.
However, the school demanded that the Maples take their son to a hospital to be evaluated, believing that he suffers from ADHD. The school called the parents the next day to ask if they had taken Camden to the hospital.
When the Maples told a school official that they did not take him to the hospital, the school official asked to know what they talked about at home with Camden. But the Maples felt that their conversation was private and the school had no right to know.
After their conversation with the school, the school reported allegations of physical abuse and neglect to CPS and the Maples were later contacted by CPS to do an investigation of their home.
"The school called CPS a total of five times. Once for Camden saying 'peanut butter penis' on the bus," The Maples told CP. "They called saying he was making sexual comments. That is not a sexual comment."
Christian Maple told the CPS official that their son was fine and an investigation would violate their privacy and their Fourth Amendment rights. The family demanded CPS present a warrant.
Two weeks after the incident at the school, Christian Maple got a call from CPS telling him that there was a court hearing for "emergency shelter care." CPS alleged that Camden has a mental disorder that requires him to be placed in the care of children services.
The Maples asserted that CPS had "zero" evidence of any parental wrongdoing but the court ordered Camden to be removed from the home anyway.
Although the Maples wrote that the court ruled that the allegations against them were "unsubstantiated," they were told that CPS is now trying to have Camden declared a dependent of the state in order to "justify their actions."
"We are all very happy to have Camden back home with us, but we still have a tough fight on our hands," the Maples wrote in their GoFundMe update. "We are looking for a good lawyer who will fight for our rights that are being violated. We have severed ties with the original lawyer because we felt they were defending CPS and the court's actions, may be in their back pocket, who knows."
The Maples added that they feel the move to declare Camden a dependent of the state shows that the state is "unwilling admit that they have made a mistake and drop the case."
"This case has been completely blown out of proportion and CPS now feels that they have to justify their actions and overstepping by having him declared dependent, which we still have to fight tooth and nail," the Maples told CP. "How can they get away with declaring a child dependent based on one statement from a 7-year-old? It's preposterous."