Kiera Wilmot, the Polk County girl who caused a small explosion on her high school campus by mixing household products, will not face criminal charges, the State Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Kiera, 16, was a student at Bartow High School until last month when she was arrested after she mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a water bottle on school grounds, a police report stated. She was arrested and faced felony charges for possessing a weapon on campus and discharging a destructive device.
She also was suspended from school and told she faced expulsion, according to her attorney, Larry Hardaway. He said she served a 10-day suspension and is now attending classes at an alternative school.
Her case drew national attention and outrage on Twitter and other social media sites, with many arguing both school and police overreacted. An online petition on her behalf has more than 195,000 signatures.
The office of State Attorney Jerry Hill, whose jurisdiction includes Polk, said that it extended “an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child.” That typically means a probationary-like program that allows the youngster to perform community service or meet other conditions and then avoid a criminal record.
Brian Haas, an assistant state attorney and spokesman for the office, said he could not provide details of the diversion-program agreement reached in a juvenile’s case. But he said the teenager and her guardian had signed the agreement.
“The pending case has been dismissed. No formal charges will be filed,” read the office’s statement.
Hardaway said Kiera and her mother were both relieved and the teenager was “very happy.” No one answered the phone at Kiera’s Bartow home Wednesday.
Hardaway said he will turn his attention now to helping Kiera, whom he described as a good student, avoid expulsion and return to Bartow High for the next school year.
Leah Lauderdale, a spokesman for the school district, said in a statement: “The Polk County School District will take the State Attorney’s decision into consideration in determining what, if any, further disciplinary action is appropriate.”
The online petition for Kiera was started by an Oregon woman, who said she was thrilled with Wednesday’s news.
“I’m so excited to hear that the charges against Kiera have been dropped and that she can now start to move on with her life,” said Maggie Gilman, in a statement released by Change.org, which hosted her online petition.
“Even though I don’t have the privilege of knowing Kiera, I believe we all have the responsibility to stand up with one another whenever there is injustice.”
The incident took place April 22 about 15 minutes before the 7 a.m. start to classes, Principal Ron Pritchard said.
Students were gathered outside, as they typically do before the bell rings, and he heard what sounded like a firecracker, he said.