CPS Finally Gets it Right – Drops Case Against Texas Couple
When Mark and Sherrie Shorten of Splendora, Texas, were sentenced to 18-months each in federal prison, they left their children in the care of an aunt; they never suspected they would be subjected to an investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS). However, when the aunt became overwhelmed by working 12-hours a day, taking cake of the couple’s 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son became too much for her.
The Shortens were convicted of conspiracy to embezzle money from victims of Hurricane Ike; although “Mark Shorten maintains neither he nor his wife, an accountant, were guilty.” (foxnews.com)
While they were serving their respective sentences, the Shortens’ children were living unsupervised in an old school bus. Last March, a well-meaning postal worker notified officials because they grew concerned after seeing the children in a “disheveled” state. After finding the Shorten pair on the littered lot, they immediately removed the brother and sister and placed them with a foster family.
“Let’s be blunt,” Mark Shorten said. “Once I saw pictures on the news and read
the full story, I was glad somebody pulled my children out of that mess. Both of them suffered through that mess.” (foxnews.com)
Still, unlike most stories involving CPS, this tale has a happily ever after; both Mark and Sherrie Shorten have been released from prison, and a judge is expected to recommend dismissal of the case against them. The dismissal will allow the family to reunite and return to their renovated school bus home. According to the family patriarch, “That’s what I’ve been targeting all along.” (foxnews.com)
By all accounts, the family seems to be handling their ordeal remarkably well. CPS authorities are pleased by the dedication the parents have shown in wanting to maintain their family. They have complied with the plans set forth by the agency and the children are doing well in school.
As for the dilapidated school bus, it has hot and cold running water, a bathroom, and is being renovated. While the bus was not meant as a permanent residence, it serves the families’ current purposes.
Although it is not the best situation, the Shortens’ take their situation in stride. Daughter Jessica opines on whether or not their circumstances are unbearable, “No, not at all, as many do not even have what we do, they either live under a bridge, or in a sidewalk doorway, homeless shelters, and some even in the woods, having no place to call home at all.” (theschoolbusfamily.com)
While the family is not completely free of their past obligations, both Mark and Sherrie are on supervised federal release for three years and must pay back $100,000 in restitution, they are positive about their future. They are grateful they can be a family again.