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Cumberland County school employees arrested for assault

Posted December 29, 2015
Updated December 30, 2015

— Two Cumberland County Public School system employees were arrested Tuesday and charged with misdemeanor child abuse involving students, authorities said.

Danny Mandell Pettigrew, of 516 Glen Canyon Drive, and Terry Van Drake, of 844 Hilton Drive, work at Pauline Jones Middle School, which is an alternative school for troubled students.

"We had the one report of the child having someone grabbing him and, in looking at the videos of the classroom and other videos in the school, we saw where they had done it multiple times and we felt like it was something that we probably needed to intervene on," said Sgt. Sean Swain with the Cumberland County Sheriffs' Office.

Pettigrew, a teacher at the school, was charged for grabbing a minor, a student in his class, by the neck and chest and throwing the child against a wall, according to authorities.

"People need to understand that at an alternative school, I'm teaching the kids that nobody else wants to deal with," Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew said that the student he dealt with during the October incident was completely out of control.

"At some point, this kid kind of lunged at me and as a defensive move I just kind of pushed him back," he said. "It happened to be on a day, on a Wednesday, that they wear civilian attire, so he had on some slick bottom shoes so he fell and he hit the floor."

Pettigrew said he has been named teacher of the year on two previous occasions and would never do anything to hurt a child. He also said the ordeal has devastated his wife and children and he is looking to vindicate himself in court.

"I'm just trusting in God and this battle is not mine. I'm putting it in the Lord's hands right now," he said.

Drake, the safe school coordinator, was charged with three counts of child abuse. According to authorities, on Oct. 28, Drake grabbed a minor by the wrist and forcefully pulled the student form a desk. Authorities said Drake forced the student to the floor and placed his knee on the minor's back.

Later the same day, authorities said Drake grabbed a minor by the wrist and forced him to the ground. Drake struggled with the child until he forced the child's hands behind his back, then picked up the minor and forced him into a desk.

A third incident occurred Oct. 30, when authorities said Drake grabbed a minor by the wrist and forced him out of the desk and onto the ground. He then struggled with the child and placed him back in a desk.

Both men were placed in the Cumberland County Jail under an unsecured bond.

They are scheduled to make their first court appearances Feb. 9.


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  • Roy Jones Dec 30, 2015
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    They should give theses two men medals not fire them. An alternative school is the last chance before total expulsion from the school system. The students that attend are often involved in some type criminal activity and some do wear home arrest ankle bracelets to keep track where they are. This is the liberals answer to keep troubled children in school even though they rather be on the street breaking the law. When their is no parent to correct their action this is the result. The people who are in this program chose to be in it, they were given many chances to make corrections to return to regular school. Too often if you look in the mirror you can often see the problem.

  • Doug Smallen Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Some get fed up with the disrespect everyday and break.

  • Dennis Lee Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    These men acted in the interest of the students and school. What needs to be addressed is why the students acted out in the first place. our children deserve a education and my grandchildren tell horror stories of how stunts, little gangsters dominate the class room with the teachers in fear of them. Start sending this type of student to children's court


  • Jillison Ferrell Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    I'm from this area, Cumberland Co. Have any of you seen the crime rates in Fayetteville?? Someone below mentioned "bullying"...how is the staff supposed to handle these kids, by "talking nicely to them"? These guys were doing what they could to try to control young people who are disrupting at the very least, and even more likely, violent. These two should probably be armed and sent back to the school instead of arrested. The schools are a dangerous place for teachers and admin. these days.

  • Jim Hinnant Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    "Safe School Coordinator" - really?

  • Sam Jaber Dec 30, 2015
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    I want to know what the other side of the story is....were the students doing something to warrant the "abuse"???? Which brings me to my next statement-When did grabbing a student by the wrist become "abuse"???? If it's necessary to restrain a student for not only their safety but the safety of the other students and staff how would you suggest they be grabbed????

  • Carl Collie Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    So this Resource Officer has three incidents of abuse in 3 days and it is not in the National Media, but one white officer has an incident and suddenly it is a racist attack on an African-American student? Maybe all of the incidents were just poor judgement and not some racially motivated hate crime, but that does not play into the narrative that the media wants to portray.

  • BigWillie Johnson Dec 30, 2015
    user avatar

    The issue is two fold. You have students who do not want to be at school. remove them from the traditional environment, and put them in an environment more structured to their needs. Vocational perhaps, you can even start in middle school. Further, how can you lecture students not to bully, when the administrators and teachers do it themselves.
    I know where the issue begins, studies have shown that the bottom third, academically, who enter college are the ones more likely to pursue a degree in education.

    Also, let's trot out the worn out clichés, about discipline begins at home, and we should be able to beat the kids while at school, because it worked so well for me.

    We need to do something dramatic. Government should get out of providing public education. The product they provide is inferior and does not produce results, and they have the audacity to keep asking for more and money. We as nitwits keep passing more and more school bonds.