As school districts around the nation attempt to encourage students to take an interest in math and science, one Florida honor student has been expelled from school and is facing felony chargers over an apparent experiment gone awry.
By all accounts 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot is a model student. She gets good grades, comes from a great family, and her principal at Bartow High School calls her “exemplary.” But after she mixed together two household cleaning items in an eight-ounce bottle and caused a small explosion, the honor student finds herself facing jail time.
At 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
Wilmot claims she was merely conducting a science experiment and wanted to see how the common chemicals will react, but school police arrested the teen and charged her with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device.
Though no one was hurt and no damage was caused during the small explosion, Wilmot was expelled from school and must complete her diploma through a special expulsion program.
Many have called the school district’s decision an overreaction, but the Polk County School district is standing by its decision to harshly punish the teen.
“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,” the district said in a statement. “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.”
Wilmot’s principal, Ron Pritchard told a local news affiliate the teen is a good student who simply made a mistake.
“She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone,” he told WTSP. “She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.”
Schools should be a place for intellectual curiosity, but unfortunately for Wilmot, her penchant for science got her in serious trouble.
*h/t to Carolyn Edgar.
Want to voice your displeasure with the district’s decision to oust the teen? Contact the Polk Country School district:
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