Tampa, Florida - Today the Hillsborough County School District will send out letters to parents about the arrest of principal Anthony Giancola. Also today, crisis counselors will be on hand for students.
Principal Ginacola was carted off in handcuffs carted off in handcuffs Thursday afternoon, 5 minutes before school let out.
- Deon Simms, 8th grader:
- "I was saying, 'is this Mr. G? You sure...Mr. G?'"
Tampa Police say Giancola purchased $20 of crack cocaine from an undercover officer around 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The alleged deal went down in the principal's office with kids in class just down the hall.
- Laura McElroy, Police spokeswoman:
- "The officer expressed concern, saying he did not want to do the transaction while there were students on campus and school was in progress, but the principal said that's where he felt safe."
Students playing basketball after school describe Giancola as a "good guy", someone who knew almost everyone's name and a principal who expected the best out of them.
- Kendridge McKinnon, 6th grader:
- "He try to make sure we in line and not do things we're not supposed to and make sure we got good grades."
School district spokesman Steve Hegarty says up to this point Giancola had a good performance record and was highly respected. He has been with the school district since 1991.
As Giancola was put in a police cruiser he told reporters he was "very sorry".
Tampa police say Giancola started using crack cocaine in December when he experienced personal problems. They say he immediately got hooked and was spending $100's a day on his habit. Tampa police are looking into the possibility he may have done more transactions in the past on campus.
If convicted the 40-year old faces a minimum of 3 years in prison.
Tampa Bay's 10 News