The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), which helped the family challenge CPS for the return of their son last year, announced that the removal had been made official by the department last week.
Throughout the latter half of 2019, CPS’s case against the Pardos dragged on, but the Texas Supreme Court ordered the agency to return Drake to the family in October and in December CPS dismissed the case at the lower court.
But policy under the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) stipulates that when a CPS investigation of an individual results at some point “in a disposition of ‘reason to believe,’” that individual is placed on a central child abuse registry.
Inclusion in this registry will show up in background checks and can prevent an individual from employment or volunteering.
Legislation passed in 2017 that provided a process for individuals in situations like the Pardos to be removed from the registry, but that process is not well-defined.
“What anybody can do in these situations is an administrative appeal,” said THSC president Tim Lambert in an interview with The Texan. “After that, there’s not much that you can do because there’s really limited due-process here.”
“Very few people go beyond the administrative process, and that’s usually because most of these families don’t have the means to hire legal counsel and go to court in these situations,” said Lambert.
THSC says that the Pardo family filed an administrative appeal with the department in April, but that the appeal was denied.
They subsequently moved to another appeal within the department’s office of consumer affairs and notified the agency that they would bring the matter to court if necessary.
In August, THSC sent a letter to DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters that was cosigned by 16 state lawmakers and representatives of nine other organizations and requested the department to immediately remove the Pardos from the registry.
Lambert said that in talking with the agency, officials believed that there were limitations on their part on how the removal could be done.
“What we are told by the agency is that the statue is unclear about how CPS can remove somebody from the child abuse registry,” said Lambert.
But in November, the agency notified the family that they were being removed from the list.
This month, that removal process was completed, according to THSC.
“I think the agency also understands that there needs to be some legislative fixes to this process,” said Lambert, noting that THSC is planning to support legislation in the upcoming session to address the matter.
He noted that in the upcoming legislative session, THSC wants to support legislation that would amend the statute related to the child abuse registry to clarify the process for removing innocent parents from the list.
“It’s just horrific that these families and children are traumatized in these situations and then CPS can arbitrarily put the parents on a child abuse registry,” said Lambert.