- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Parents of two former Brunswick County Schools students have filed an incident report with the sheriff’s office, claiming a teacher grabbed, shook and yelled at their 7-year-old son.
Edward and Tracey Danka said on Feb. 5, their first-grade son, Jarrod, begged them to not to send him back to school at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary. He said he was afraid of pre-kindergarten teacher Kendralynne Gore and having to be in her classroom.
When Edward Danka spoke with Jarrod’s former first-grade teacher, Chuck Norris, to find out why Jarrod was in a pre-K classroom, he was told it was the consequence of bad behavior.
Edward Danka said Norris told him Jarrod was outside at recess when he came back inside the school. On his way back out, Jarrod yelled into Gore’s classroom where her students were napping. Gore then went out to the playground to find Jarrod and brought him back to her classroom to discipline him, Edward Danka said.
According to Jarrod, the incident occurred on Nov. 1.
“He specifically remembers that date,” Edward Danka said.
“Jarrod’s version is that Mrs. Gore grabbed him by the arms, shook him, and yelled at him,” Tracey Danka said at a press conference last week. “Consequently, Jarrod was in fear of Mrs. Gore.”
Since then, Jarrod has made himself sick, had nightmares and said he did not want to go to school. Edward Danka said Jarrod had not wanted to tell his parents in fear they would cancel his birthday party, but after two and half months, “he broke down.”
“If I would have known about it on Nov. 1, I would have been here Nov. 2,” Tracey Danka said.
Edward and Tracey Danka met with Gore, Norris and numerous Jessie Mae teachers and administrators on Feb. 6 to discuss the incident.
Gore and Norris did not return phone calls to the Beacon seeking comment about the incident. They were both present at the Feb. 6 meeting, which was recorded. The tape was released to the media.
During the meeting, Gore explained her version of the incident.
“I talked to him and told him he could not yell in the classroom, my kids were taking a nap,” Gore is heard saying on the recording. “Then I explained to him I said, ‘They don’t come in your class, yell and disrupting what you’re trying to do,’ and he stayed for about five minutes then he went back outside.”
But Edward Danka sticks by his son’s word.
“According to Jarrod, you did more than just talk to him—you grabbed him by the arm and shook him,” he said.
At one point during the meeting, Gore denied putting her hands on Jarrod but later said it’s a common practice for her to “pull” students to her when talking to them.
“Usually when I talk to a child, I may pull them up close to me so they can hear what I’m saying, but I never yelled because my kids were sleeping,” she said. “I never yelled or pulled on him or anything to hurt him.”
Since the incident in November, Tracey Danka said Norris has “threatened” to send Jarrod back to Gore’s classroom, using it as “a tool to keep him in line.”
Norris, according to the recording, said sending Jarrod to Gore’s classroom “is the one thing that works.”
“What I told him was if he continued ee that I was going to let him spend half a day with Mrs. Gore, in hopes to help him think about what he needed to do. Because as I told you, that is one thing that works with him. All the children do not have to be treated the same way,” Norris said.
Norris went on to explain that one of the consequences for behavior is sending students to other classrooms for time-outs.
“I don’t treat anyone different than the other,” he said. “If I think they need to go across to kindergarten, then I would certainly take them over there. If I think they need to go over to the office, then I would bring them to the office.”
On the recording, Norris said Jarrod never told him he was afraid of going to Gore’s classroom.
“He has told me he doesn’t want to go, but so do a lot of other children,” he said.
Edward Danka disagreed.
“You told me yourself on the phone last night that he’s afraid of her,” he said to Norris. “You told me that yourself.”
Edward Danka told Norris he has no problem with his children being disciplined at school, but he had a problem with Norris sending Jarrod to Gore’s classroom.
“You threatened to send him to Mrs. Gore’s class when you knew he was deathly afraid of her. Terrified. That’s a heck of a thing to hold over a 7-year-old,” he said.
Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Katie McGee said while the school has a district-wide student code of conduct, positive behavior support and other disciplinary actions may differ among schools.
McGee said time-outs in different classrooms is normal and gives students a time to separate themselves from the situation and refocus.
At the end of the recorded February meeting, Norris agreed not to send Jarrod to Gore’s classroom again, but that wasn’t good enough for Edward and Tracey Danka. They have since removed Jarrod and his twin sister from Jessie Mae and enrolled them in a private school in South Carolina.
McGee said her office is notified of any and all incidents reported to law enforcement.
“To my knowledge there have been no charges with Mrs. Gore, and I feel certain if there were some I would be notified.”
Tracey Danka registered to run for the Brunswick County Board of Education on Feb. 27.
“I had no intention to run for this school board,” she said. “I have been accused of it, but I had no intention. But after these incidents, I’m sorry. I cannot put my children back in public school where I believe they belong if I’m not on that school board.”
Having an honest, open line of communication between teachers and parents is something Tracey Danka believes should exist and is something she expects.
“Bottom line is if you’re a teacher in that school, you’re a teacher in our school system and you don’t like me, is it because you’re afraid I’m going to find out? Because I will. I’m now making it my mission to find out who you are and what you’ve done to our children.”
And whether she makes it on the board or not, Tracey Danka is not giving up.
“I’m going to make every effort to talk to all the parents in Brunswick County,” she said. “Somebody has to let our parents know what’s going on.”
Kristi Dellacona, a parent who removed her kindergartener from Jessie Mae, said she supports Danka’s campaign, and knows she’s running for the right reason.
“[Tracey Danka] really cares and has a deep concern for every child at that school, not just her kids,” Dellacona said.
“Other parents need to step back and think and realize that she’s not just fighting for her kids. She’s actually fighting for your child, whether you know anything happened to your child or not.”