As I posted last week, nothing had happened in the Tutts’ attempts to regain custody of their children in the three weeks since the judge’s ruling on January 7, when four of the children were restored to the Tutts, two in process of adoption were kept in foster care, and one child from a previous marriage was placed with the biological father.
On January 27 we wrote a letter to the Texas commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), asking for an investigation into the caseworker who had testified in court that she had not asked for the removal of the Tutt children but had facilitated that action (by Judge Graciela Olvera) by adding to her report statutory language that the children were in danger when she knew that not to be the case.
On January 28 we issued a call to action, asking supporters of the Tutt family to call Governor Perry and the legislative offices of the Texas House and Senate Committees who have legislative oversight of CPS and urge them to contact DFPS and seek an investigation of this matter. Many callers received assurances that these legislators were contacting DFPS.
Some offices made comments that this case was out of their jurisdiction since it did not happen in their districts. We responded that these legislators have oversight of CPS and that they should contact DFPS for an investigation because of the egregious nature of this caseworker’s action; it does not matter where it happened. We encourage people to call these legislative offices again next week; please most especially note to the office if you live in the district of the state representative or state senator whom you are calling. We would also appreciate hearing any feedback you get from those offices.
On January 29 we held a press conference on the courthouse steps in Dallas, alongside family friends of the Tutts who had been present at one or both hearings. We called for an investigation of not only the CPS caseworker involved but also her supervisor. We also called on local judges who had appointed Judge Olvera to remove her from office for her illegal taking of the Tutt children. You can view the video of the Tutt press conference and the comments from the Tutt friends and supporters.
The good news is that our actions have resulted in movement. The Tutts have been contacted by a new caseworker, who gave direction about where Mr. and Mrs. Tutt could get psychological evaluations, and those are now in process. This new caseworker also called last Friday to set up visitation between the Tutts and those children still in foster care. The caseworker said she would take the children to this visitation, but Mrs. Tutt replied that she would take the children and supervise the visit herself.
The children have all been placed in public school except for the five-year-old, whom the local school said they could not accommodate due to a space issue. Mrs. Tutt has requested academic assessment of the children by school officials, as required by the court. Many of the adopted children came out of bad situations and were very far behind academically when they came to the Tutt family.
The counseling sessions required by the court of Mrs. Tutt and her son who was placed with his biological father have not been completed to this point, as the father has not taken his son to the sessions, while Mrs. Tutt has been available, as required by the court.
THSC also sought a copy of the transcript of the January 7 hearing in Judge Tena Callahan’s court. We were informed this week that the district attorney and the attorney for the biological father have objected to our request, and a hearing has been set for March in which they will seek to prevent THSC from buying that transcript and to seal those court records. While it is common to protect children involved in these kinds of cases by not using their names, we believe the intent in this action is to prevent the public from having evidence of what actually happened in the courtroom.
The Tutt family continues to sort through the trauma they and the children experienced as a result of the taking of their children. Please continue to pray for Mr. and Mrs. Tutt and their children as they continue to try to heal and recover from this ongoing travesty of justice.