A teacher in Indiana has been arrested after he was caught on video slapping a student during the school day.
Michael Hosinski, 61, of Osceola, Ind., was taken into custody by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office on a level 6 felony for battery, the department said in a statement on Friday.
Hosinski allegedly hit the Jimtown High School student during a “verbal altercation” on Feb. 25, according to a press release from the Baugo Community Schools, published by NBC affiliate WNDU.
On Tuesday, the Baugo Community School Board announced that Hosinski, who worked in the district for 40 years, would be allowed to retire early, according to the South Bend Tribune.
In 2020, Hosinski was named Teacher of the Year at Jimtown High School.
The Feb. 25 incident allegedly began after Hosinski confronted the victim about the hoodie sweatshirt they had worn to class before he “inexplicably” made physical contact with them, the district said.
Security footage of the incident obtained by WTHR shows Hosinski grabbing the backpack of a student and pushing them against the wall moments before pointing a finger at them and slapping them in the face. Earlier in the clip, Hosinski appears to chase the student down the hallway while a student and school staff member look on.
After making contact with the student, Hosinski appears to grab them by the jacket with both hands as he holds them against the wall before grabbing their arm and attempting to lead them down the hallway. The student then falls to the ground as an adult appears in front of them.
That’s when Hosinski appears to retreat back toward the room he exited at the start of the clip.
The open-handed slap “caused the student’s head to strike the wall” and “the student suffered visible injuries” as a result, according to Baugo Community Schools’ statement. The victim was “immediately” treated by medical staff.
“The safety of students attending Baugo Community Schools is our highest priority and greatest responsibility,” Baugo Community Schools said in their Feb. 25 statement.
“When anyone, including a teacher, undermines that priority and responsibility, swift action must and will be taken to safeguard Jimtown students,” the district continued, adding that, “anything less cannot be tolerated.”
Baugo Community Schools said school administrators “promptly contacted” both the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office about the incident. The Indiana Department of Education’s teacher licensing officials were informed of the incident as well.
“Baugo Community Schools has and will continue to fully cooperate with all investigations, as well as offering supportive services to the student and the student’s family,” the district said before announcing that Hosinski “is no longer employed by Baugo Community Schools.” He is also not permitted on school grounds.
“All Jimmies must be able to learn in a safe environment,” the district concluded.
Many members of the community have shown their support for Hosinski in wake of the incident. Students organized a walkout Monday morning, and a Change.org petition asking to save Hosinski’s tenure and retirement garnered 1,345 supporters prior to Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Before the meeting began, a man who identified himself as the victim’s father confronted board members about Hosinski’s actions, according to the Tribune and Good Morning America.
After being approached by Baugo Superintendent Byron Sanders, the man yelled “A grown, 280-pound man smacked my son in the face!”
Those supporting Hosinski do not believe the recent incident is indicative of his character. One man who described himself as Hosinski’s friend believes that something had to have led Hosinski to “snap” as he did, according to GMA.
One student at Tuesday’s meeting told the board that she had “never been more embarrassed” to be a student at the school after seeing how the administration handled the situation. “The administration has not only failed the students, but our teachers as well,” she said.
Another Hosinski supporter said those “that actually had Mr. Hosinski thought the world of him,” per GMA.
This is not the first time Hosinski has been criticized for his conduct as an educator. In 2019, the Northern Indiana Atheists represented three families that took issue with Hosinski for allegedly “violating students’ rights with religious propaganda,” such as a 10 Commandments movie replica, anti-liberal posters, pro-Republican Party posters, anti-choice posters, and more.
The group revealed that it planned to file a complaint against Hosinski after a parent told the group in an online submission that the teacher had told students in his class that “Hillary [Clinton] and [Barack] Obama are criminals, President Donald Trump is great, and Democrats are liars.”
Hosinski also allegedly made remarks about the legality of abortion and how “poor people don’t have jobs but spend money on alcohol and drugs,” among other topics.
“It was obvious from speaking to his past students that he had been getting away with violating student’s rights for years,” the group said in a Facebook post on Monday.
Tanner Clark, a Jimtown High School alumnus, told the Tribune that the video of his former teacher did not alter his opinion of the man. Clark called Hosinski “a great mentor,” “a good person,” and “a very Christian man.”
“That is the video of a man who lost his cool and made a mistake,” Clark told the newspaper. “But mistakes can be rectified over time.”
Obviously the teacher should’ve never put his hands on the student, but the way kids pop off these days we’re inclined to believe the teacher was pushed to his limits.