Judge tears into CPS

‘Dis­hon­est’ agency must pay fam­ily $127K for tak­ing young kids

The Dallas Morning News - - State -

HOUS­TON — A Texas judge has or­dered Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices to pay a fam­ily more than $127,000 for wrong­fully re­mov­ing their chil­dren and al­legedly ly­ing to the court about the re­moval.

State Dis­trict Judge Mike Sch­nei­der on Thurs­day an­nounced sanc­tions against Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices af­ter call­ing the agency “dis­hon­est” and pos­si­bly “ma­li­cious” for re­mov­ing Melissa and Dil­lon Bright’s two chil­dren in Septem­ber, the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle re­ported. Sch­nei­der or­dered the agency to pay the Bright fam­ily’s le­gal fees and to cre­ate new train­ing for CPS work­ers.

“We do need to deal with the is­sue of how we make sure this doesn’t hap­pen again,” Sch­nei­der said.

In July, 5-month-old Ma­son suf­fered a head in­jury when he fell from a chair onto a con­crete drive­way at the fam­ily’s home in Tom­ball, north of Hous­ton. Melissa Bright took him to the hos­pi­tal, where an MRI showed a sec­ond frac­ture and bleed­ing in the baby’s brain.

Melissa Bright couldn’t ex­plain the sec­ond in­jury, which re­sulted in a child abuse pre­ven­tion team’s find­ing that Ma­son’s in­juries were “con­sis­tent with child abuse.” CPS work­ers placed him and his sis­ter, 2-year-old Char­lotte, in the care of other fam­ily mem­bers.

But the hos­pi­tal later found that Ma­son prob­a­bly had a blood-clot­ting dis­or­der, which would ex­plain his ad­di­tional health is­sues. Ma­son’s head in­jury also didn’t heal as planned and re­quired the baby to have a hole drilled in his skull to re­lieve pres­sure.

Melissa Bright needed to nurse Ma­son in or­der to pre­vent an­other in­jury, but CPS wouldn’t let the mother live with her child.

The fam­ily tried to work with the agency to move the child closer to home, but case­work­ers de­layed get­ting ap­proval, lead­ing the fam­ily to bring the chil­dren home on their own. A case­worker, Lavar Jones, then sought emer­gency cus­tody of the chil­dren in Septem­ber with­out telling the court about Ma­son’s blood dis­or­der and a med­i­cal opin­ion that ex­plained his sec­ond in­jury.

Jones, ques­tioned weeks later in court, de­clined to an­swer on grounds that do­ing so might in­crim­i­nate him.

CPS spokes­woman Te­jal Pa­tel said the agency was re­view­ing its op­tions, in­clud­ing an ap­peal.

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