Personnel have been disciplined after male students simulated lap dances at homecoming events at a Kentucky high school this week, but the superintendent won’t disclose specifics.
Hazard Independent Superintendent Sondra Combs on Wednesday night issued a statement apologizing for photographs that showed inappropriate homecoming activities at Hazard High School including lap dances from young males and girls in Hooters t-shirts pretending to carry beer.
“Our district would like to apologize for the activity that has been portrayed in the media and we regret how this has unfolded,” said Combs. “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.”
Principal Donald “Happy” Mobelini, who was seen in photos smiling during the lap dances, did not respond to questions Wednesday. Mobelini is also the mayor of Hazard.
Late in the evening on October 26, Combs said she was made aware of concerns raised by photographs that were posted on the Hazard High School Athletic Facebook page.
She found photos of inappropriate student-led activities that had since surfaced on social media.
“We strive to foster creativity in our students, but unfortunately, this time it was carried too far,”’she said.
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.
“All were intended to be fun and good-natured however, the activities did not play out as intended. While Homecoming is an annual tradition, there has never been any issue raised prior to this year,” she said.
Combs said she is reviewing policy and procedures to make certain that it does not happen again.
Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken following the investigation, she said. “As it is a personnel matter, we are not allowed to disclose any further information regarding the specifics of the discipline,” Combs said.
A student activity committee will be developed to review all student led activities, which should prevent any similar skits from being performed in the future.
Training will take place on policies and procedures with all district staff and school councils.
“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,” said Combs.
“It is there on public display for everyone to see and share around the globe. We would hate to see a single youthful indiscretion haunt one of our children for their entire life,” she said.
Combs said a dress code will be enforced in the future at all school activities, for both males and females. 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.
“At the end of the day, the light-hearted activity simply got out of hand, and for that, we apologize. In the future, we will strive to keep the lighthearted, fun nature of school activities without the inappropriate behavior,” she said.
Combs asked that people “not judge a district with a century long tradition of striving for excellence on a single incident where fun trumped judgment.”