Donald Mobelini: Hazard High principal let off with 'reprimands' after lap dance fiasco
A Kentucky high school principal and two male staffers who were filmed getting lap dances from male students dressed in drag at a homecoming event are said to have merely received a slap on the wrist for their involvement.
Donald 'Happy' Mobelini, the Mayor of Hazard and the principal of Hazard High School, received the reprimands along with staff members Larry Thacker and Joshua Hurt the day after the homecoming event on October 27. The controversial event billed as a "man pageant", reportedly featured male students giving lap dances to three staffers, while female students pretended to serve beer while wearing Hooters tops. Photos and videos from the event sparked an uproar on social media.
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As per the reprimand signed by Hazard Independent Superintendent Sondra Combs, staffers had exhibited "poor professional judgment" and therefore had to attend mandatory training sessions approved by the school. "This action placed the school district in a situation of legal liability and cast it in a poor light," the letter stated, adding that any further disciplinary reaction from those named could result in them being fired.
The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained a school document that revealed the details of the homecoming event. "Each class will sponsor one boy to compete against the other class representative in evening wear, swim attire, and talent," the document read. Mobelini received support from residents who organized a rally for him on October 28 after photos of the event became public. Those attending the rally defended the so-called "man pageant," saying it was a longstanding homecoming tradition at the school.
Hazard High School.— Nate Bryan (@NateInSports) October 28, 2021
Like a Virgin
And Mayor/Principal Happy is front row
But please, feel free to tell me I'm taking this outta context https://t.co/ScRbPzAZ2y pic.twitter.com/OtwW7nXD9m
That said, this is barely the first time Mobelini landed in hot water with the school district. He was named in a 2019 lawsuit filed at the Perry Circuit Court by an unidentified female student who claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a male classmate during a school trip two years earlier. The alleged victim said she had been told not to report the assault as it would go on the male student's record. The suit also alleged that Mobelini and two other chaperones had failed to ensure the students' safety during the trip and that they did not follow up on the allegations. Mobelini and two other teachers reportedly sought to dismiss the case and allegedly failed to mention the lawsuit while renewing his teaching license last year. Nonetheless, the case is due to go on trial next August, according to the Daily Mail.
Back in 2008, Mobelini was reprimanded after students were caught drinking on school property. Photos surfaced of the principal driving students around, while they were in the back smoking and drinking vodka. Later, it emerged police caught several students drinking on the football field, just moments after Mobelini had left them. He denied his involvement and claimed he was unaware of the students' drinking. "Kids sneak and drink. They screwed up. I’m sorry I didn’t catch them. All I do is try my best to help students not drop out of school and get a diploma. I don’t try to harm them," he said at the time. While Mobelini was not formally charged, he had to undergo 12 hours of alcohol and drug awareness training.