Business Insider: Police Drop Charges Against Teen Whose Science Experiment Exploded At School

We just got news that the state attorney’s office has decided not to charge Wilmot with any crimes.

Instead of charging her, the State Attorney’s office offered a “diversion of prosecution” which means certain terms are set up that Wilmot needs to meet — like community service — before the charges will be officially dropped.

The statement said:

Based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, the lack of criminal history of the child involved, and the action taken by the Polk County School Board, the State Attorney’s Office extended an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child. The child and her guardian signed the agreement to successfully complete the Department of Juvenile Justice Diversion Program.

The pending case has been dismissed. No formal charges will be filed.

Read the complete news report on Business Insider.

SpaceRef: Homer Hickam Supports High School Student Whose Science Project Got Her Expelled and Arrested

Homer Hickam can relate to Kiera. In his famous memoir Rocket Boys, adapted into the film October Sky by Universal Studios, Hickam chronicled his own unauthorized experiments with rockets, including a scene where the police showed up at his high school to take him and his friends away in handcuffs.

After being made aware of Kiera’s similar situation, Hickam decided to take action by personally offering her a scholarship to the United States Advanced Space Academy. ASA is a branch of the famous Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama (www.spacecamp.com) and offers a college-accredited program through the University of Alabama in Huntsville that includes STEM education plus college and career preparation.

Kiera has accepted Hickam’s scholarship offer.

Read the complete story at SpaceRef.com.

Jezebel: This Is What Happens When ‘School Resource Officers’ Handle Discipline

Do SROs actually improve school security? Well, when SROs aren’t busy accidentally discharging their firearms in the schools they’re supposed to be protecting or failing to prevent the massacre at Columbine, they’re roaming around busting kids for disrupting class or for dropping birthday cake in the cafeteria. For safety! Okay, so maybe SROs aren’t preventing any major incidents of violence, but they are arresting loads of teenagers. There is a considerable correlation between the presence of SROs and the number of juvenile arrests in the schools where they’re placed. Kids are now getting arrested for things that used to end up in the principal’s office—nonviolentoffenses like hallway scraps, skipping class, or swearing. Um, success?

Read the full article on Jezebel.com

Daily Kos: Update on Florida teen arrested for doing science while Black

Now there’s been some progress and some of it good. She may not be tried as an adult. She’s got a good lawyer, and they’re busy trying to both drop the charges (or at the very least, get them muted to the point of only a few hours community service, which I suppose is grudgingly fair) and let her return to school. So we did have an effect. A good one.

That doesn’t change the unthinkingness of zero tolerance policies, the fact that a school to prison pipeline exists in several states, especially Florida, and so very many issues in this  country that need fixed, especially endemic racism whether conscious or unconscious. I still maintain if she weren’t black in Central Florida, this would not be news. Nor does it change the terrible education so many are getting, while we are busy criminalizing garage chemistry and natural curiosity.

Read the complete article at DailyKos.com

Afro-Dissented: An Open Letter To Kiera Wilmot’s Prosecutors From A Former Bartow High School Student

My name is Josette Souza. I am currently a third year student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and I am a former Bartow High School student.

I am writing this letter to urge the Bartow Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and Bartow High School to drop the felony charges against Kiera Wilmot, to allow her to finish her education at Bartow High School, to erase the arrest from every record, and for the State to begin several rigorous, externally-conducted investigations into the State of Florida’s complicity with the School-to-Prison Pipeline, racist law enforcement practices, and draconian sentence giving.

As I write this letter, the memories of my time at Bartow are flooding my mind. Thinking of my time at Bartow usually brings me joy, but today and for the last week every time I think of the school I feel nothing but anger and shame.

Click here to read Josette’s complete letter

PopSci: Dear Schools: Stop Treating Science-Curious Kids Like Criminals

Did Wilmot make a mistake? Yes. Should she carry two felonious charges into her adult life? No.

Kids are kids. Their futures ride on trying, failing, and learning from mistakes. Much of that happens during personal experimentation, and schools should equip them to do it responsibly, whether or not it happens on school property.

Read more from this article on PopSci.com

Business Insider: Lawyer For Teen Arrested For A Science Experiment Working To Prevent Felony Charges From Being Filed [Q&A]

We talked to her lawyer, Larry Hardaway, to get the latest on the case. This is a lightly edited version of our chat:

Business Insider: What’s the latest on Kiera’s situation?

Larry Hardaway: Right now we have stayed the administration’s proceedings with the school board until we can work out a resolution. On the juvenile prosecution part, the state attorney’s office has not decided to file charges. We will have further negotiations next week about how to move forward without harming her. So things are moving forward.