‘People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut’: Mom defends high school investigated for student lap dances

‘Using this as a teachable moment, we will provide social media training for our students and staff,’ superintendent says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 28 October 2021 19:32
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<p>A Kentucky high school has been criticized for some of its activities during homecoming week that were shared on social media</p>

A Kentucky high school has been criticized for some of its activities during homecoming week that were shared on social media

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A mom has defended a high school in Kentucky that was investigated after photos seemingly showed students giving teachers and the principal lap dances during a “man pageant”.

The images were shared on the Facebook page of Hazard High School but gained national attention when they were shared by a user on Twitter. The school has since removed the images from Facebook.

The photos of the homecoming week “man pageant” also seem to include girls dressed as Hooters waitresses seemingly carrying alcohol. One image seems to show a male student giving a lap dance to the principal, and Hazard Mayor, Donald “Happy” Mobelini.

“Paddlings” were also reportedly performed on students.

Superintendent Sondra Combs said in a statement toThe Louisville Courier Journal that “appropriate disciplinary action has been taken” but added that “as it is a personnel matter, we are not allowed to disclose any further information regarding the specifics of the discipline”.

Mother Hollie Layne, whose son took part in the events at the school, told local TV station LEX 18 that “people don’t know how to keep their mouths shut”.

“It has been taken completely out of context,” Ms Layne added. “There are only photos being shown on the internet, no videos. The photos don’t show the teachers pushing the children off of them.”

“If everybody is perfect, then I would say, ‘Yeah, maybe we do need to rethink something,’” the mother said. “But until somebody can prove that something is going on here other than just homecoming week and teenagers being teenagers, then I will support my kids.”

Ms Combs said the students had planned the “homecoming festivities”, including the “man pageant”.

“Spirit Week at Hazard High School has a long and celebrated tradition. Homecoming activities were planned as a celebration for students, staff and the school community,” Ms Combs said in a written statement. “All were intended to be fun and good-natured however, the activities did not play out as intended.”

She added that a student activity committee will “review all student-led activities, which should prevent any such skits from being performed in the future” and more training “on policies and procedures” will be given to members of staff.

The event was promoted by Hazard as being part of homecoming week, which also included the Powderpuff football game, Spirit Day, and Twin Day, but much of the controversy came from the so-called “man pageant”, which Ms Combs declined to confirm if it was a yearly event.

A spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Education, Toni Konz Tatman, told The Louisville Courier Journal that the agency is “aware of what took place in Hazard Independent Schools” and that they have “been in contact with the superintendent, who has informed us that the incident is under investigation”.

Hazard Independent School Board member Aster Sizemore said he was present at the school on Tuesday but didn’t attend the controversial event.

“Normally, the principal, Happy Mobelini, is pretty dad-gum strict, so that surprises me, unless someone pulled something out of a hat,” Mr Sizemore told The Journal. “A kid comes to school with a short dress, you know, he makes them go home and change.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Mr Mobelini was investigated twice for incidents involving students and alcohol in 2008.

Police reportedly apprehended students drinking on the football field just shortly after Mr Mobelini had been present and the paper reported that in another incident, photos circulated showing him driving students who were smoking and drinking. The principal reportedly wasn’t reprimanded because he didn’t know the students were drinking.

“Using this as a teachable moment, we will provide social media training for our students and staff. In today’s society, students must understand that anything posted online is permanent!” Ms Combs wrote. “It is there on public display for everyone to see and share around the globe.”

The Independent has reached out to the office of Mr Mobelini for comment.

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