“He is very honest and respectable and would never intentionally try to hurt anyone,” said classmate Kelcie Thomas. “It was an honest mistake and my whole school is backing him up and supporting him fully.”
The Withrow family is not talking to the media on the advice of their attorney – but Boykin said the family is just heartbroken.
“It’s almost like they are in a fog – something so innocent has turned into this big to-do,” she said. “When you try to do the right thing, you get in trouble.”
The school system is standing by their decision.
“Administration reacted promptly and the proper procedures and protocol were followed,” Jones said. “The situation was turned over to law enforcement immediately. As a result of our investigation, it is our best determination that students and staff were safe at all times.”
Boykin said the problem is that the laws are black and white.
“There’s no room for grey area,” she said. “There’s no room for discretion for human error.”
While his future remains unclear, Boykin said an encounter last week sums up the character of Cole Withrow.
“The kids got their caps and gowns on Friday and after school a group of them went to a local Mexican restaurant,” she recounted. “They were being loud teenagers and carrying on – but when the waiter brought their food – the table got quiet. They all bowed their heads and they said the blessing. Cole was one of those kids.”
Boykin said she cried when another mom told her that story.
“They don’t always make the right decisions,” she said. “But I don’t know what other kind of decision he could have made at that point.”
Like many in this town of 1,000 residents, Boykin is dumbfounded.
“Honestly, my heart just broke,” she said. “I know that it was just an honest mistake.”