UPDATE (4:05 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11): Jackson County School Superintendent William Hosaflook released a statement explaining why no disciplinary has yet been taken against the students accused in an alleged sexual abuse incident that happened at Ripley High School.
Hosaflook said that an outside investigator will conduct an investigation, which will be completed within the next week, and federal law requires that a certain process be followed before a school board is allowed to take disciplinary action.
Hosaflook’s full explanation of the process is below:
The Jackson County Board of Education is investigating a Title IX Complaint that has become the subject of much speculation and discussion in the community. Our Board Policy 2266 follows the strict procedure required by the federal Title IX regulations. Jackson County Schools has assigned the investigation of the complaint to an outside investigator. It is anticipated that the investigation will be completed within the next week. Once the investigation is complete, the parties are required to be given an opportunity to review the report of evidence and submit any additional information to the investigator. Following that timeframe, an investigation report will be issued and submitted to the parties and an impartial decision maker. The parties will have an opportunity to review the investigation report and submit any additional questions to the decision maker, who will render an impartial decision in this matter. The Jackson County Board of Education takes all complaints of harassment seriously and is committed to following the procedures required by federal law. The federal law requires this process to be followed before a board of education is permitted to take disciplinary action against a student or employee for Title IX violations.William Hosaflook, Superintendent, Jackson County Schools
RIPLEY, WV (WOWK)—Students at Ripley High School held a sit-in protest Tuesday, Jan. 10, over safety concerns following an alleged case of sexual abuse, according to students and parents.
They say that they will continue to hold demonstrations until their concerns are addressed.
A group of students that marched out of the high school told 13 News that those involved in the protest were suspended for three days.
Students and parents tell 13 News that the students involved in the alleged incident that happened around Oct. 21, 2022, during an after-school athletic team workout are still attending school with the rest of the student body. 13 News has not been able to verify the status of the students with Jackson County Schools.
“I think the way things are being handled is wrong,” said Barbara Shamblen-Fields, a senior at Ripley High School. “We still have those boys in the school with us that did this … and they should be punished for it correctly. And they shouldn’t be allowed to go to school with us because we have a lot of people concerned with everything.”
Jackson County Schools Superintendent William Hosaflook said that the school district has hired a Title IX investigator to deal with the incident, but he cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation. He said he cannot comment on disciplinary actions because of FERPA and TITLE IX rules. He said that the school district plans to make a statement once the investigation is complete.
In the aftermath of Monday’s walk out protest, the school administration decided to meet with students Tuesday to address their concerns and discuss administrative policies. Hosaflook said that about 30 students attended the discussion; however, about 23 students decided to voice their concerns through a sit-in protest.
“I’d rather be a part of something that would actually help other people because nothing is being done about the damage being caused to the people here,” said Jasper Pinsman, a sophomore at Ripley High School.
According to authorities, one of the juvenile students is facing a sexual abuse charge, and all four students, including the vice principal’s 18-year-old son, Jacob Banton, are charged with battery and conspiracy.
In December of 2022, the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s office was appointed to be a special prosecutor in the cases against all four students.