Local News

Cumberland County school employees arrested for assault

Posted December 29, 2015 9:06 p.m. EST
Updated December 30, 2015 4:13 p.m. EST

— 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.