“She’s 16 and doesn’t know what it means when you hear ‘gun’ on campus,” Herring told the Advertiser. “We admit what she did was wrong. I was hoping this could be a teachable moment for her. We’re not saying she should not have been punished. But she took a 10-day suspension. And then the board expelled her. We feel the expulsion is excessive.”
“After the principal and school officials knew it was a water gun, things should never have progressed this far,” Herring also told the Montgomery newspaper.
“The second you picked it up, you know its plastic and a toy,” Herring also said.
“Laney admitted she had the gun and told them it was a water gun and in her car. She and the other boy were silly and made a mistake. But the punishment she received was completely out of line for what happened.”
Autauga County school district superintendent Spence Agee refused to comment about the expulsion, citing student privacy concerns.
A local attorney, Julian McPhillips, is now representing Nichols’s family in an effort to reduce her punishment.
“(Laney) was the naive and unwitting victim of a scheme (for lack of a better word) by several boys to set her up and make her take the fall for a water-gun one of the boys brought to Prattville High School on Friday, January 27, 2017,” reads a letter from McPhillips to attorneys representing Prattville’s board of education.
McPhillips observes that the student who allegedly brought the water gun to school in the first place as well as “other boys who knew about what was going on” “escaped without any discipline whatsoever.”
The family is demanding that the school district retract the lengthy expulsion and wipe it from Nichols’s academic record.