RIPLEY, WV (WOWK) — WOWK 13 News spoke with Riley Knotts, the senior who was banned from school property after a gun was in his grandfather’s car on school property, and he said he is thankful for the support he has seen from the community.

“It meant a lot to me that everybody was willing to support me and stand behind me,” Knotts told 13 News. “I’ve never seen anything like that before and it was awesome. That’s all I can say.”

According to family members and friends, Knotts 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 would not be able to attend graduation next month.

Many people were outraged about how the situation was dealt with, but Knotts said he understands that the school law has to be followed. In addition to thanking the community for their support, he thanked the Ripley Police Department and Jackson County Board of Education for doing their job.

“There’s only so many things that they can do by law and not a lot of people understand that,” he said. “They did everything they could to help me, and I appreciate that.”

In regards to following the school law, Jackson County Schools Superintendent, William Hosaflook, said “This is a perfect example of how school law and the process works and once again as Riley has stated, it turned out favorably, and that is allowing the process to work.”

On Tuesday, the Jackson County Board of Education voted to not expel Riley Knotts and he plans to be back at Ripley High School on Monday. After this, Knotts was seen telling the audience, “I’ll see y’all in school on Monday,” which is followed by applause.

Before the expulsion meeting, Knotts and his grandfather were flanked by hundreds while they rode to the school in a horse-drawn carriage.

Almost everyone showing up for Knotts – which included family, friends, West Virginia state troopers, Jackson County deputies and Ripley officers – wore red, Knotts’ favorite color.

“I never thought that in a million years I would get that support that I’ve gotten from everybody,” Knotts said. “The community, the school board, the police department, everybody.” 

With graduation in sight, Knotts is already making plans for what comes next. After graduation, he plans to go to auctioneer school. However, he said this is something that’ll stick by him forever.

“Pay attention, and I hope everybody learns that pay attention,” Knotts said. “Take that extra time out of your day to pay attention because just one accident can upset the apple cart so just pay attention.” 

Jackson County Schools Superintendent William Hosaflook released a statement regarding Knotts:

The question is simple, follow the law or do not follow the law. We are required
to follow The WV School Law book, which contains roughly 962 pages of school laws.

Unfortunately, we have had people, of course, not all people, belittle and berate
board members, students, and administrators of our school system with false
information gathered from the People’s Law book- also known as Facebook, which is
their intent to fill people’s minds with false information to get unwarranted reactions.
These believers want to talk about how unfair the school system is, but on the other
hand, want us to totally disregard state law and policies by which we are governed: only applying the law on a case-by-case basis. In my book, this is the classic definition of a hypocrite. Schools are continually chastised on social media outlets for “sweeping things under the rug,” but in reality, nothing is swept under the rug but kept confidential by the laws we must follow as established by the state of WV.

What is even more frustrating is our young students are watching….as adults
consumed by nonfactual and untruthful information, utilizing a social media platform to spread blatant misinformation to create an unstable learning environment for our students.

More appalling to me, are the social media posts attacking students who did what
they have been taught to do. “See or hear something? Say something.” Tell an
administrator or a law enforcement officer immediately. What message are we sending
to our students when Facebook posts by adults attack our students for speaking up
when something is not right?

I would like to extend our gratitude for the support given to all our students, staff,
administrators, and Board members during this process. The kind words, patience, and
trust in character for all involved have been heard and felt. We are very fortunate that
this incident was not deleterious in nature. We are also very fortunate to have a Board
of Education that methodically studies the facts of each case and applies pertinent
policies and laws to make informed decisions.

Finally, we have dealt with two situations this year in our school system that
continue to be reported with untruthful information. I wish I could tell you the honest
facts in all disciplinary cases, but I cannot, which is a very hard part of my job.

Please know that what is being reported by media outlets and social media
outlets continues not to have all of the facts.

William Hosaflook, Jackson County Schools Superintendent