Kern County is handing over one million dollars to a family in the Weldon area for wrongfully taking their son out of their home in 2008. The dispute started between the child's school, South Fork Elementary School and parents over what their kid could eat. While the school can't comment on the case until the settlement is signed; attorneys on both sides are talking about the bigger issues being brought out by this case.
"They are relieved that the case is resolved, they are relieved that at least financially they are put back in a position where they were before this all happened," said Shawn McMillan attorney for Darlene and Larry McCue. McMillan says the McCue's spent every penny they had to get their son back through juvenile court proceedings. McMillan says his clients are now picking up the pieces of their lives after the four year court case has ended, with the McCue's winning a million dollar settlement from Kern County.
"I think it's a fair result under the circumstances considering what they had spent," said County Attorney, Mark Nations. According to the county the whole situation started in 2008 when McCue brought up allergy concerns with her 7 year old son's school. "He had a nut allergy and she did not feel the school had adequately addressed it," said Nations. According to county counsel, the boy's parents insisted on extensive medical testing which is what initially lead to questions about the boy’s safety. "We got a referral from UCLA Medical Center indicating that they were concerned that a parent was perhaps exaggerating the conditions of a child and receiving unnecessary medical care," explained Nations.
The county acted on that referral and after an investigation by CPS and the Kern County Sheriff's Department, the boy was taken from his parent's home for four months. Later, a juvenile judge ruled that there was no evidence that the boy was in danger. "There is a lot of frustration there is a lot of anger and understandably so. Mrs. McCue is still angry at the county," said McMillan the McCue family attorney.
Child Protective Services is now working on a new policy that would require social workers to get a warrant from a judge before they can take a child from their home. "This is the first case of this kind that we've ever had in the county, it's helped us evaluate the way we do things," said Nations. The family's attorney also responded with positive outlook on the proposed policies. "Kern County is a shining beacon of hope in this state because they are really trying to make an effort to change some things," said McMillan.
Still no word on when CPS is going to change their policies to include a warrant, but the county tells us that ball is already rolling on that issue. We'll let you know what happens next.