EDITOR’S NOTE: 13 News has learned that Knotts was never expelled. Superintendent William Hosaflook says an expulsion must go to a meeting to decide if a student is expelled.

The story is updated to reflect these changes.

RIPLEY, WV (WOWK) – Community members are standing in support of a Ripley High School student who was banned from school property for having a gun in his car on campus last week.

According to family members and friends, Riley Knotts, a senior, was banned from all Jackson County schools for a year as a result of the incident. The disciplinary action taken meant he couldn’t attend senior prom last weekend, and he will not be able to attend graduation next month.

Those that spoke with 13 News said it was an accident. They disagree with the punishment because they said he drove to school unaware his grandfather’s gun was in the car.

“It’s just a complete misunderstanding. Riley’s a great kid. You won’t meet any kinder kid than him,” said Lora Hammack, a family friend. “If he was a kid that was always causing trouble or showing any sign of distress, I could see all of this happening, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this isn’t Riley. Sometimes you have to look outside of the box, not everything is black and white.”

Hammack said she’s known Knotts since he was in sixth grade. She is one of many community members rallying around him, hoping the decision will be reconsidered.

“He’s a good, god-fearing country boy that was raised right,” said Sherri Smith, a family friend. “The outpour, the community that is behind him and supporting him is unreal. This is a very loved young man everybody in that school, every teacher, every principal, the superintendent, they know what an amazing kid he is.” 

Since Knotts wasn’t allowed to attend his senior prom, Smith said she plans to host a prom at Lovin’ Life Stables, the wedding venue she owns, for him next month.

“I feel sick to my stomach that this poor kid missed his prom, a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said. “We’ll do whatever we can to help Riley.”

William Hosaflook, the Superintendent of Jackson County Schools said with any disciplinary action, the WV Code and WVBOE policies must be followed. There is a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Community members are saying another reason they are frustrated is because of an alleged incident that happened where a group of students allegedly sexually assaulted another student on school property at soccer practice.

The Ripley Police Department said in a post on Facebook they are, “not pursuing charges due to the criteria and intent that we believe this young man did not have in the situation he was accidentally placed in. However along with Riley, we do ask that parents and students learn from this and pay more attention to what is in their vehicle so that the issue does not arise again.”