Florida School Responds to Criticism for Expelling Student Over Science Project: "There Are Consequences to Actions"

Categories: News
kierawilmot.jpg

By all accounts, Kiera Wilmot's science experiment gone wrong triggered just a tiny pop and a small amount of smoke at Bartow High School last week -- but her tale is certifiably blowing up the Internet today. Thanks to Reddit and Reason, thousands of people have commented on Wilmot's story, many asking the same question: How could an otherwise model student be expelled and charged with a felony over an experiment that didn't hurt anyone?

Riptide decided to call the Polk County School District to find out. The answer: The letter of the law demanded the punishment, and school administrators believe kids should learn "there are consequences to their actions."

We've also obtained a police report that indicates Wilmot mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil -- a combination that has inspired hundreds of YouTube videos and generally produces a fairly unimpressive explosion.

See also:
- Florida Teen Girl Charged With Felony After Science Experiment Goes Bad

"Unfortunately, what she did falls into our code of conduct," Leah Lauderdale, a spokeswoman for the district, tells Riptide. "It's grounds for immediate expulsion."

More specifically, Wilmot's mini-explosion -- which came after she mixed "common household chemicals" in a plastic bottle -- violates Section 7.05 of the school's conduct code, Lauderdale says, 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."

So even though Wilmot's principal acknowledges that the 16-year-old wasn't trying to hurt anyone and simply made a "bad choice," the school's rules said she had to be expelled.

Police, meanwhile, have charged her with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device.

The other most common question about her story is what kind of chemicals she was mixing. Lauderdale says she doesn't know.

Riptide has requested a police report from the Bartow Police Department to try to find the answer. They've promised to send it our way but so far it hasn't arrived. We'll update this post when we get our hands on it.

In the meantime, Lauderdale says Wilmot can challenge her expulsion, but says she's unable to discuss whether or not the teen has done so because of student privacy rights.

The spokeswoman says the school district stands by its rules. "We urge our parents to convey to their kids that there are consequences to their actions," she says.

Continue reading for the police report and video.



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563 comments
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andrewppp
andrewppp

Whoever oversees those fucking morons at Polk County Schools should kick their pathetic arses into the ocean. They don't belong on land. Swim with the fishes, please, but chiefly stay away from our children. Incompetent buffoons. Idiotic cretins. Out-of-touch ignoramuses.

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Woodybert
Woodybert

To paraphrase Charles Dickens' character, Mr. Bumble in 'Oliver Twist' who said, "If the law supposes that, the law is an ass", this act by the Bartow High School and other public officials are doing to this poor child. 

They should follow the intelligent 'precedent' of Sen. Patrick Leahy who, When he was a Vermont Prosecutor, refused to prosecute a skinny dipping case. Madde him so famous he was able to get elected to the U.S. Senate about 40 years ago.

Otherwise, they're either just a bunch of racists or purists. 

ThinkBetter
ThinkBetter

She is a child. She did nothing to hurt anyone. No damage was done, this should not be something that requires police intervention. I encourage all the people commenting to consider how this situation would have been treated if the girl was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and white? I am disgusted by the racist commentary below, and by the racist behavior of the school administration. There is no reason that a child experimenting with a plastic bottle and house cleaner, should be treated as a threat. 

CheckpointCharlie73
CheckpointCharlie73

You can take the monkey out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the monkey!

Thomasj52
Thomasj52

Imagine if she mixed ammonia and chlorine, two other household chemicals....not knowing the reaction and brought it to class, where your son or daughter was??

Would you feel she should be allowed back to class, after your child inhaled the deadly chemical reaction that she brought to school?


SinCityScott
SinCityScott

                                                    Kiera Wilmot, Criminal Scientist!?

  ....school administrators believe kids should learn "there are consequences to their actions." This is one of the most disingenuous, wrong-headed, out n out lies I've ever seen. Not to mention a tragic miscarriage of justice! Think I'm being over dramatic in my use of the word "tragic"? What IF this seemingly quite normal, nice, well-behaved, high-schooler stays 'kicked-out' of school? What if she cannot graduate? What if it impairs her ability to find a job? What if she becomes (reasonably so!) bitter and disgusted with fools and vengeful adults who are acting out of very possibly racial motives or power gone to their heads?
Either way, 
 "there are consequences to their actions" is CRAP. What were her "actions" that led to such over-the-top punishment as expulsion, arrested and charged w/ a FELONY!? Yep...a science experiment conducted outdoors, popped the top off a very small bottle and discharged a very small amount of smoke- hurting NO ONE. 
In anywhere other than backwards, redneck, racist, FL this would be characterized as an "oops" and might provoke a titter or two; but in FL it's a School District gone MAD and felony charges and talk of "consequences". Wow, I can only pray that some higher, bureaucratic, body steps in and does dole out some consequences- to the pernicious, imbeciles in the FL school that made this horrible, soul-crushing, decision against an innocent Kiera Wilmot!

sincitynastyOHIO
sincitynastyOHIO

hmm, some people are always labeled "victims" and others criminals. At least that's how it works where I'm from.

thevoiceofreasonunce
thevoiceofreasonunce

I am so sick of us adults treating kids as if they are automatically guilty. Most juvenile delinquents never get a fair trial. First and foremost no one knows for sure if Kiera was screwing around. Secondly those "friends" of hers could have been her science fair partners. Is she in the science fair and does the teacher know that this was her project. These will be important questions in the future. We don't know all the details. Just becuase other kids made "works bombs" doesn't mean that was Kiera's intent. We can't judge other kids based off of what others do. We have no idea if Kiera even knew what a "works "bomb"" was. She's a good kid with no record so I am shocked that they didn't even give her the benefit of the doubt. Race is clearly and issue here becuase if she was white that would be enough for the admin to stop and think. The principal could be lying for all we know. Administrators do it all the time. 

chdwlf
chdwlf

Let's round up all the kids combining Mentos and Diet Coke while we're at it--you can't be too careful!

chdwlf
chdwlf

A nation of officious pricks and the cowards who obey them. Follow the rules when they make sense, this does not. To see people supporting the obviously stupid actions of the faculty and cops in this fiasco saddens me. How frightened are you people, seriously? Why are Americans such wusses?

pmoffett1356
pmoffett1356

OK PEOPLE READ THE RULE 7.5 IT SAYS IF THE PRINCIPLE DOES NOT KNOW ABOUT SAID DEVICE BEFOREHAND THEN IT IS A VIOLATION --NOT THE TEACHER KNOWING BEFOREHAND --- THE TEACHER WAS THERE WITH THE STUDENTS WHILE THE STUDENTS WERE OR RATHER TEACHER HOLDING THE SCIENCE FAIR THE STUDENTS WERE PARTICIPATING IN THE SCIENCE FAIR --THEREFORE THE TEACHER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR LETTING THE PRINCIPLE KNOW WHAT WAS UP!!! NOT THE CHILD!!! I THINK THE TEACHER SHOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SCHOL SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE EDUCATED!!!!

lulurushmore
lulurushmore

@Woodybert Skinny dipping is not comparable to creating an explosion (regardless of how small it turned out to be) on a high school campus. The law and/or school officials would be "asses" if they allowed students to do unsupervised "experiments" around campus. Not only would it be dangerous for the children, there would certainly be legal consequences for the school. 

ShannonJ7270
ShannonJ7270

Common sense.....out the window

Rational cirtical thinking skills......nonexistent

Emotionally intelligent adults engaged and aware..........likely locked in the janitors closet

A system wrought with ineffective policies that create more harm than good due to the inability to act as rational, emotionally intelligent, human beings engaged and aware using critical thinking skills an common sense to ensure the punishment fits the crime results in this type of outcome.

Forget she's an honors student, forget she's black, now all we have is a 16 year old who has never been a problem in her life. Simply put you could raise her awareness of the potential to create harm by having her do research and report on home use chemical accidents, I can think of several off the top of my head. She gets a temporary in school suspension while she builds this report. Then you educate the entire student body by inviting some people who have suffered injury and lost loved ones from misuse (accidental or deliberate) of home chemicals to share their stories.

No one can predict the future and this totalitarian style justice is an attempt to thwart FUTURE escalated misbehavior. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS---WE MAKE MISTAKES----ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE YOUNG AND THE BRAINS FRONTAL LOBE ISN'T FULLY DEVELOPED YET. If I were to radicalize your comment the way you've radicalized this incident with a "what if" future possibility I would make it something like this: "Imagine if she got a bunch of smoke detectors like that Nuclear Boy Scout kid and built a WMD and brought it to school not knowing the reaction?? Would you feel she should be allowed back to class after YOUR TOWN was destroyed by the nuclear blast??" Sorry, but your argument is just plain rediculous and juvenile. Going down that road leads to implementation of Sharia type laws where the first time a teenage boy gets a glimpse at a young girl in close fitting clothing our legal system gouges his eyes out.

To answer your question, Yes, she should be let back in after being PROPERLY reprimanded and educated, and have the science teacher befriend her and help her learn in a safe environment how to experiment with various chemicals. You never know, with a positive experience instead of excessively harsh negative discipline, she may very well become the chemist who cures cancer, or Alzhiemer's, Lou Gehrig's, etc.

stan
stan

@SinCityScott lol. pulling out the race card. do we need a more obvious sign of your nonexistent argument. the girl was not 'innocent' at the very least she exhibited spectacular lack of judgement and her actions could have seriously injured her fellow students. the fact that no one was hurt is irrelevant. there DO need to be consequences. we need to stop teaching our kids they can get away with whatever they want. that said I do think that the authorities went over the top here. realistically however if this kid is as good a student as she is being portrayed as, there will be little to no effect on her chances for future success in life. remember she is a juvenile, so no adult record, and she will be going into a program to get her diploma if she doesnt appeal the expulsion. 

Roma4204
Roma4204

@thevoiceofreasonunce she did something dangerous with poisonous chemicals around other kids that could have caused injury. What is there that the administrators need to lie about? Race is not a big issue at all in Bartow given that most residents are in fact black. Perhaps your issue is whatever racial inequality is ACTUALLY going on - so why don't you channel your energy to fighting that instead? 

Roma4204
Roma4204

@thevoiceofreasonunce so anyone can knowingly make a bomb and as long as no one got hurt it's okay? Her intent was to make a bomb, what else would it have been? 

lulurushmore
lulurushmore

@thevoiceofreasonunce No, there is no science fair. There is not a question about this. The principal only said that she had not been a "problem child" in the past...why would he lie about that? No, the science teachers knew nothing about this because it was NOT a science project. 

Roma4204
Roma4204

@chdwlf you can't compare mentos and diet coke to something that can create a chemical burn

tarabela
tarabela

Try that argument again without attempting to just degrade people who don't agree with you. If you take out "officious pricks and cowards," "obviously stupid," and "wusses," you're really left with nothing.

So you only "follow the rules when they make sense"? Wow, what chaos that would be if we all did that. There are ALL kinds of rules that don't make sense - rules that promote safety at school are not in that category. Also? Nobody is frightened. It COULD have been a frightening situation however - we only know such things in hindsight. Amazing how just a few months ago, everyone's solution to violence on school grounds was to arm teachers and staff and have more police around. Can you imagine what could have happened if we had actually DONE that and this girl set off a little explosion?

Roma4204
Roma4204

@chdwlf how does it not make sense. bombs = potential to injure and kill. what she made was a bomb

lulurushmore
lulurushmore

@pmoffett1356 There was no science fair. The teacher didn't know about this because it was not a science project. Get it together, buddy. 

scotdance1
scotdance1

1. Caps lock. Find it. Use it.

2. It had been thoroughly and repeatedly established that the teacher was NOT there and did NOT know about it.

thevoiceofreasonunce
thevoiceofreasonunce

@Roma4204 @thevoiceofreasonunce A full investigation will see who's lying and who's telling the truth. Like I said in my OP we don't know what really happened. The Administration could be using making excuses to cover their behinds. We don't know. This girl deserves the benefit of the doubt. 

thevoiceofreasonunce
thevoiceofreasonunce

@Roma4204 A full investigation will see who's lying and who's telling the truth. Like I said in my OP we don't know what really happened. The Administration could be using making excuses to cover their behinds. We don't know. This girl deserves the benefit of the doubt. 

TheRightful
TheRightful

@lulurushmore @thevoiceofreasonunce 

Dear,

When you prepare for a Science Fair you do not go to your teacher to get ideas. You, yourself, are supposed to find a science experiment that you would want to show, learn about it, do it yourself, and then when you've selected the experiment, only then you go to your teacher and declare what is it that you are going to do at the Science Fair.

scotdance1
scotdance1

No she's not. The prosecutor's office has clearly stated that they haven't yet decided how to charge her.

lulurushmore
lulurushmore

@thevoiceofreasonunce @Roma4204 Actually, we do know what really happened. There was no science fair involved. No one at the school said anything about a science fair, not even the girl herself. 

lulurushmore
lulurushmore

@TheRightful No, the part that makes you look unintelligent is your repeated mention of a NON-EXISTENT science fair. 

Roma4204
Roma4204

@TheRightful @Roma4204 What I thought was not intelligent was the fact that you rushed to make a point that wasn't valid. At least learn how to spell. I'm glad you can judge someone is an asshole from one post on the internet. Stay behind your computer and work some numbers. Here's a great formula for you - though it's in English so it may take you a while: 

no evidence to back up your statements + lack of ability to communicate properly = you should not be on message boards

TheRightful
TheRightful

@Roma4204 

Based on your post I see that you are an asshole.

You resorted to insults at a first sight of someone disagreeing with you. You are so full of yourself...

Let me put it this way for you, asshole, I am an immigrant and the sentence structure being not up to your "intelligent" standards has nothing to do with my level of intelligence. I speak 3 languages and have MSc in Math. So whatever my sentence structure proves to you simply shows that you are a self-centered prick. You responded to my post and insulted me right there, without any reason whatsoever.

For other readers - pardon my language.

TheRightful
TheRightful

@Roma4204

Do you not understand that the teacher  did not say that there was no any Science Fair? The teacher stated that her actions were not a part of any classwork. It simply means that the experiment was not a class assignment.

Where did you get your idea that there is no science fair involved?

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