South Tampa principal under second investigation, students rally to support him

Posted at 11:02 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 17:26:57-04

Students and parents are rallying behind a south Tampa principal who is under investigation for the second time this school year. 

Tampa Police are looking into claims that Michael Hoskinson, the principal at Coleman Middle School, choked and pushed a student last week. 

Police released a 911 call made by a 13-year-old student last Wednesday. 

"My principal, he grabbed me and threw me into a bush and like, was literally like attacking me and grabbed my neck," the student told a 911 operator. 

In November, Hoskinson and his wife, who was an assistant teacher at Plant High School, were arrested for child abuse. Hoskinson resigned from his position at Coleman Middle, but got his job back a few weeks later after investigators revealed the couple was falsely accused. 

Those who witnessed last week's incident tell ABC Action News, Hoskinson tried to restrain an unruly student and did nothing wrong. 

"He goes through all of this crap, he doesn't deserve any of it, I didn't think any of it is true, and it's not," said student Ashton Stringer.

A march in support of Hoskinson was canceled Wednesday, but there were plenty of parents and students who gathered outside after school to show their support for the longtime school leader. 

"Mr. Hoskinson is an amazing principal," said Coleman parent Aned Rictor. "He's so committed to the school, to the community at large, he cares so much for our kids."

Hoskinson's attorney, Rick Escobar, says Tampa Police should have already cleared his client's name.  According to Escobar, there are several witnesses readily available to verify Hoskinson's innocence. 

On Thursday, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan released the following statement:

"On March 21, Tampa Police received a 9-1-1 call from a student at Coleman Middle School who alleged that the principal had grabbed him on the back of the neck and pushed him into a bush.

As we would do with any similar allegations, TPD opened an investigation. Since receiving that call our detectives have interviewed the student who made the call, 11 other students, and 4 adults. Through his attorney, Mr. Hoskinson declined our requests to speak with him to get his side of the story.

We owe it to the student who made the call, and to the principal, to be fair and thorough in our investigation. Our detectives have done that. At this time, the results of our investigation have been shared with the State Attorney's Office so they can determine whether a crime occurred. "