A Kentucky school district has apologized in response to criticism over a skit that featured students giving teachers lap dances while dressed in bikinis and other revealing attire and female students dressed as Hooters’ girls.
Sondra Combs, the superintendent of Hazard Independent School District, addressed the criticism in a statement.
“The activities were part of Homecoming festivities and were driven by the students,” she wrote. “We strive to foster creativity in our students, but unfortunately, this time it was carried too far.”
“Moving forward a student activity committee will be developed to review all student-led activities, which should prevent any such skits from being performed in the future,” Combs vowed. “While we value our students’ creativity, we also must ensure that it is focused in an appropriate direction and will be more vigilant toward that goal in the future.”
Hazard High School in Perry County held a “male pageant” as part of its homecoming week celebrations last week. The Hazard High School Athletics Facebook page initially posted pictures of the event, but the images and the Facebook page appear to have been taken offline following backlash.
One picture of the event, obtained by the social media account Libs of Tik Tok, showed a male student in what appeared to be a red bikini performing a lap dance on a male faculty member.
Another picture showed a student dancing suggestively in front of the school’s principal, Donald “Happy” Mobelini, who is seen in the photo with a smile on his face. Students featured in the photographs had their faces blacked out due to privacy concerns.
A third picture shows a shirtless male student performing a lap dance on a male faculty member while touching his stomach.
The pictures shared by the social media account included a screenshot of a collage of images from the event.
“[T]oday, during their homecoming assembly they held a male pageant. During this, young male students came out with bikinis, lingerie, tons of skin showing, etc. they proceeded to ,as it seems in the photos, give lap dances to the teachers,” the social media post stated.
Additional images of the event showed female students wearing Hooters tank tops, modeled after the scantily clad outfit worn by waitresses who work for the restaurant chain. Short-shorts, also synonymous with the Hooters uniform, completed the ensemble. Some of the girls appear to have been carrying what looked to be glasses of alcohol.
The pictures received national attention and condemnation. Conservative blogger Matt Walsh cited the school assembly as an example of how “the public school system is literally crawling with pedophiles and sex predators.”
In her statement, Combs offered an apology because the “light-hearted activity simply got out of hand.”
“Our district would like to apologize for the activity that has been portrayed in the media and we regret how this has unfolded,” she stated. “This is not the type of event that typically occurs here at Hazard High School, and we sincerely regret any embarrassment this has caused our school community. We love our Hazard High School students, staff, and community at large.”
Combs assured that an investigation was launched after she was informed of the incident on Oct. 26 and that “appropriate disciplinary action has been taken following the investigation.”
“As it is a personnel matter, we are not allowed to disclose any further information regarding the specifics of the discipline,” she stressed.
Combs added that training will occur on “policies and procedures with all district staff” to help prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
“We have a dress code that is to be followed at all times. It is apparent that it was not in this case, but we will assure you that it will be enforced in the future at all school activities, for both males and females,” Combs stated. “Costumes will be reviewed for appropriateness in additional to being required to meet the dress code. Any costume referencing drug or alcohol use will be strictly prohibited.”
The Kentucky Department of Education is investigating the incident after a complaint of educator misconduct was filed with the state’s Education Professional Standards Board. The complaint is seen as preliminary because it has not yet resulted in a case against a particular educator, which could lead to the EPSB voting on whether to remove the teacher’s license.
Commissioner of Education Jason Glass told The Lexington Herald-Leader that “the Kentucky Department of Education will fulfill its responsibility for investigation and support the EPSB in its determination.”
Subsequent tweets from Libs of Tik Tok indicated that previous homecoming weeks at Hazard High School included students dressed in sexually provocative clothing.
Video footage from the 2017 homecoming assembly at Hazard High School shows a male student wearing a bikini top performing a lap dance on a male student. Video footage from the 2020 assembly shows a male student wearing a dress while dancing to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and briefly touching Mobelini.
In 2019, Mobelini was accused in a lawsuit of exercising inadequate supervision during a school field trip, where students allegedly consumed alcohol, and a female student claimed that she was raped by another student.
According to The Courier-Journal, Mobelini was reprimanded in 2008 after five underage girls, including his daughter, allegedly drank alcohol in his presence.
The Hazard High School assembly comes as outraged parents across the United States have confronted their local school boards for including sexually explicit material in school libraries and curriculums.
Most recently, the mother of a student in Fairfax County, Virginia, slammed the school board for allowing Gender Queer and Lawn Boy to be available at the district’s high schools.
Explaining to the board that “both of these books include pedophilia, [and] sex between men and boys,” she noted that “one book describes a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on an adult male” while “the other book has detailed illustrations of a man having sex with a boy.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org