Kiera Wilmot, 16, Arrested, Expelled And Charged With Felonies for Bad Science Experiment
Kiera Roslyn Wilmot, a 16-year-old Florida high school student, had everything going for her as a top-notch student at Bartow High School. But all that changed on Monday, April 23, when Wilmot was arrested and charged with two felonies for “possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device.” She has been expelled and will be tried as an adult.
It all sounds pretty scary until you get to the description of this so-called “device”: two household chemicals mixed into an eight-ounce plastic water bottle, which caused the top to pop off and created some smoke. That’s it. No one was hurt, no property was damaged.
Wilmot insisted she was just conducting a science experiment to determine how the two chemicals would react. After the pop, she didn’t run or hide. Her friends and even the principle of her school agree that it was simply a “science project gone bad.”
But in the age of “zero tolerance” and the school-to-prison pipeline, none of that seems to matter.
The Miami News Times obtained a copy of the police report, which says Wilmot mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil, “a combination generally produces a fairly unimpressive explosion”, according to the Times.
Polk County Schools defended their decision to expel Wilmot, telling the Times that she violated the school’s code of conduct which mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb (or) explosive device… while at a school (or) a school-sponsored activity… unless the material or device is being used as part of a legitimate school-related activity or science project conducted under the supervision of an instructor.”
It’s unclear why the principal backing her claim about conducting a science experiment isn’t enough for her actions to qualify as “school-related activity.”
Nevertheless, Wilmot will be finishing her education in an expulsion program and she will be tried as an adult. That may sound harsh, but it’s in keeping with the overreactions we’ve seen in schools around the country, particularly involving students of color.
Davey D posted the following contact information for people to call, write to and yell at over the unfair treatment of Kiera Wilmot:
Bartow High School Principal Ronald Pritchard / Address: 1270 S Broadway Ave Bartow, FL 33830 / EMAIL: Ronald.Pritchard@polk-fl.net PHONE:(863)- 534-7400 Fax: (863)534-0077
Polk County Superintendent: Dr. John Stewart /Address: 1915 South Floral Avenue, Bartow, FL 33831 Phone: (863) 534-0521 Fax: (863) 519-8231 Email: Dr. John Stewart
UPDATE I: Someone has started a Change.org petition demanding that Bartow High School and the Bartow Police Department drop the charges against Kiera Wilmot.
Also, several readers are saying the contact information for the police department is inaccurate (thanks for letting me know!).
Please direct your rightful outrage about Kiera’s arrest to the Bartow Police Department:
I also highly recommend flooding the Bartow Police Department’s Facebook page with your thoughts, which you can find here.
UPDATE II: The Assistant State Attorney who made the decision to charge Kiera with two felonies did the exact opposite two days later when she announced no charges would be filed against a 13-year-old white kid who accidentally shot and killed his 10-year-old brother.