Judge tears into CPS
‘Dishonest’ agency must pay family $127K for taking young kids
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.