START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,356,216 people care about Politics

Teen Girl Arrested and Expelled for Failed Science Project

Teen Girl Arrested and Expelled for Failed Science Project

Sixteen-year-old Kiera Wilmot was an exemplary student at Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. With her good grades and perfect behavior record, she was every teacher’s dream student. She never got in trouble.

Now she has been labeled a criminal for life, all because of a failed science project.

On Monday, April 22, Wilmot was mixing some common household chemicals in an 8-ounce water bottle at her school when the top popped off, causing a small explosion and some billowing smoke. No damage was caused and no one was injured.

I seem to recall a similar experiment that my son carried out with vinegar and baking soda: pretty harmless stuff. I told him to clean it up and not to try it again. End of story.

But not for Wilmot.

Administrators at Bartow High School decided this was a matter for the police. Shortly after the incident, the 16-year-old was arrested and charged with an adult felony: possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device.

The teen was also expelled and will now complete her education in an expulsion program.

This is zero tolerance gone berserk: Care2 has previously brought you stories of a nine-year-old suspended for a “Kick Me” post-it, a seven-year-old suspended for making a gun out of his pop tart, and a high schooler kicked out of school for expressing herself about shootings.

Those did not involve adult criminal charges. Kiera Wilmot is being charged as an adult for a simple science project that went wrong. As a result, she will have a permanent blemish on her record, which could be used against her in applying for colleges and in seeking a job in the future.

She is being punished for doing what good teachers inspire their students to do: taking a chance, thinking creatively, experimenting. Here’s a young woman who was thriving at high school, and now all that has been taken away.

The school principal even agreed that Wilmot is a good student, that she wasn’t acting with any malicious intent.

From WTSP.com:

Chelsey Turner, a student, weighed in. “I don’t think she’s that type of person. She wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“I heard she didn’t want to hurt anyone at all,” said another student, Dynequa Price. “It was a science project.”

School officials are urging parents to have an open and honest conversation with kids about playing around or pulling pranks on school property.

Polk County Schools released this statement today:

“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”

Really, Polk County? Are you serious?

Do you understand what you are doing to this bright young woman, who will now undoubtedly be angry and alienated from both the school system and the judicial system for life?

This is zero tolerance at its worst. Why not try using common sense and reasoned judgement regarding intent, instead of relying on an absolutist, black-and-white interpretation of the rules? Yes, I understand that we are all on tenterhooks these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to punish an innocent student.

Take Action: If you agree that the reaction of Polk County Schools is outrageous, please sign our petition demanding that all charges be dropped against Kiera Wilmot and that she be reinstated at Bartow High School.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Nine-Year-Old Suspended For “Kick Me” Post-It

7-Year-Old Suspended For Making A Gun Out Of His Breakfast

High Schooler Suspended For Expressing Herself About Shootings

 

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo Credit: wtsp.com online video

quick poll

vote now!

Loading poll...

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

286 comments

+ add your own
8:50AM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

From the comment left at the petition:

"Esteemed school principle:

"...Thank goodness, for the sake of those who practice the Christian faith, that Jesus did not have a zero tolerance policy! Or maybe he did, and you are trying to get even. Is that it? Go ahead. Cast that stone! You aren't making a mistake now and you never will have to fear a zero tolerance for mistakes or ignorance, whether they hurt no one or even if they dent a young girl's life for being a student under the infallible principle with the chip on the shoulder. Hey, for every Galileo there is the inquisition chief afraid of harm that may come to souls under his/her care. The chief is there to suppress harmless creativity and admiration for science that may [possibly perhaps one day] endanger others or lead them astray.

"There are no important or harmful consequences to your action, principle most esteemed!!!"

8:07PM PDT on Oct 17, 2013

This is beyond stupid. Accidents happen and no one got hurt.

9:49PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

If this experiment was not done in class, then it was really stupid of her-not as bright as written-results could've done harm. Hmmm, why don't I mix toilet bowl cleaner with some drano and see what happens near other students. She should be punished, not badly, but sanctions are in order. NO, it's not like mixing vinegar and baking soda (which mother provided no doubt), which if the comsumed, heaving vomit would be the result.

9:57AM PDT on May 18, 2013

Signed the petition !
Since the school and the teachers knew or to be responsible should have known what was in the experiment -- is the school responsible for having let the experiment proceed. The student was doing an experiment -- and did not have a weapon.
PLEASE DROP ALL CHARGES.

9:46AM PDT on May 18, 2013

Did that school just violate their safety rules? --by taking one of their best students -- and hurting her.

'Polk County Schools released this statement today:
“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.” '

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/teen-girl-arrested-and-expelled-for-failed-science-project.html#ixzz2TfB7WEsc"

1:43PM PDT on May 17, 2013

CONTINUATION . . .

This is so bogus! But kudos to NASA engineer Homer Hickam. Hickam, who has offered Kiera a full scholarship to the United States Advanced Space Academy and she has accepted!

12:32PM PDT on May 17, 2013

This is an e-mail I just received from Causes:
An update from the campaign
Drop Charges against Kiera Wilmot
Update #1 Drop Charges against Kiera Wilmot
Posted by Kellen Philotic (campaign supporter)

Great news! Kiera's charges have officially been dropped! Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill announced Wednesday that her case has been dismissed, although she will have to complete a Juvenile Justice Diversion Program, the details of which are currently unknown. Next, Kiera will have to go before a school board hearing officer to determine what the consequences she will receive within the school district.

However, due to Kiera's intense interest in science and the trouble she's faced to pursue it, she has received an incredible offer from NASA engineer Homer Hickam. Hickam, whose life story was told through the film October Sky, has offered Kiera a full scholarship to United States Advanced Space Academy and she has accepted!

Thank you so much for signing this petition to support Kiera! It's fantastic to know that over 3,400 of you cared so much about this issue that you wanted to help make a difference!

Thank you again and great work!
*****************************************************
So Keira doesn't have criminal charges but still has to complete a Juvenile Justice Diversion Programme and go before the school board to determine whether there will be any consequences other than what has already been done to disrupt this bright student's life.

Thi

5:18AM PDT on May 16, 2013

i agree with allie y. there is not enough information in this article to make an opinion. what were the chemicals? the author seems to lead us to believe it was vinegar and baking soda. so i researched this on my own and found ambiguities. i did sign the petition as i don't think the intent was malicious and there should have been supervision. i also think zero tolerance has gone too far.
when reading articles like this (maybe it's just me) i like to see facts -- not so much opinions so i don't have to spend all my time googling to find out what really happened.

12:26PM PDT on May 15, 2013

There is just no common sense left in the world!

12:03AM PDT on May 15, 2013

Ok, this never mentioned she did created this "project" in her science class- or was even enrolled in science. Honestly media- aren't we swaying things just a bit here? Depending on what she had in the bottle, it could have technically been a bomb. And since we don't want law enforcement to profile (or really make any decisions at all)- her age and gender should have nothing to do with their decision. This exact same story cold read, "Student Explodes Bomb in School- Police do Nothing to Prevent Violence", depending on who is writing the story. Jeez, some people will believe anything they read.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.