Bartow, Florida -- Kiera Wilmot will soon be returning to a life that was once normal for her among her friends, teachers and peers at Bartow High School. Wilmot's attorney said on Wednesday that the Polk County School District will not be expelling the 16-year-old.
Wilmot was suspended from the school for 10 days following an incident where she brought what was described as a "bottle bomb" that went off on campus back in April.
No one was hurt when the tiny, 8-ounce water bottle's cap popped off and began billowing smoke, and there was also no damage done to the school. However, she was arrested and faced felony charges ofdischarging a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device -- along with possible adult felony charges from the State Attorney's Office.
Following her suspension, Wilmot was forced to go back to class at the Bill Duncan Opportunity Center -- an alternative high school for students with behavior problems -- while the school board awaited the State Attorney's decision on whether they would pursue any criminal charges.
During that time, Wilmot received national support following her arrest and suspension which included a petition on Change.org that received over 194,000 signatures calling for the charges to be dropped.Wilmot's own principal called her an exemplary student who is interested in robotics, science, and plays cello in the high school band.
Wilmot told 10 News the last couple of weeks have been hard on her.
"There are people teasing me, calling me a terrorist," the tiny teen also said during a news conference with her family and lawyer in Lakeland.
Finally on May 16, the State Attorney's Office decided not to pursue any criminal charges against the 16-year-old. Nearly two weeks later, the school board's decided to let her back into Bartow High.
Now that Wilmot will be returning to her school and is cleared of criminal charges, her attorney says the final step is to have her arrest record expunged to remove any harm it would cause for future endeavors. Then she will be able to finally move forward with her life and leave this unfortunate incident behind her.
Wilmot's attorney released the following statement detailing the school district's decision Wednesday:
"On behalf of Kiera Wilmot and her family, I am announcing that Kiera Wilmot will not be expelled from school by the Polk County School Districtfor the incident that occurred on April 22, 2013.
Action taken by the Polk County School District extinguishes the possibility of expulsion and any otherdiscipline beyond the 10-day suspension and theplacement of Kiera to an alternativeeducation settingfor theremainderof this school year. Kiera is eager to return to her normal school environment at Bartow High School.
Kiera's mother and twin sister are extremely pleased with the decision of theSuperintendent John Stewart and his senior staff. They also wish to thank the many caring individuals in this country and those from other countries who have supported Kiera throughout these latest challenges.
Our next important task is to eliminate the harm to Kiera's future by the records created from her arrestby the Bartow Police Department.We are keenly aware of the harm these records can cause, and we are encouraged by the positive response we have received from the State Attorney's Office. Yet we have a distance to go."
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