Hazard principal in another alcohol-related flap

HAZARD — An Eastern Kentucky high school principal is under investigation by state officials after photos surfaced online of him driving students around as they smoked and drank alcohol.

Hazard High School's Donald "Happy" Mobelini came under similar criticism earlier this year after police caught students drinking on the school's football field moments after he left them.

The photos, posted on the Internet social networking site Facebook, show Mobelini's daughter and four of her friends with vodka and cans of beer. The photos show the teens pouring the alcohol into Wendy's cups and Mountain Dew bottles.

The group of mostly 16- and 17-year-olds were also shown smoking cigarettes, which isn't legal until age 18, and weren't wearing their seatbelts.

Mobelini and the teens are later pictured at the Riverbend Music Center in Ohio during a Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

An investigator for the Kentucky attorney general said Friday that the office has the photos and is investigating with the help of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

"At this point in time, all I can really tell you is we are looking at it," said Jim Mobley.

Mobelini says he did not know the girls had alcohol and were drinking.

"They were in the ... back of the car," said Mobelini, who is also a Hazard city commissioner. "They were disguising it. I had no idea."

Mobelini said he did not smell the alcohol and couldn't hear the sounds of the cans opening because the windows in the car were rolled down. He also was talking on a cell phone much of the way.

"Kids sneak and drink," Mobelini said Friday. "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."

Mobelini's daughter, Madison, was in tears Friday while discussing the incident, saying she's sorry for the harm she caused her father's reputation.

"My dad was just trying to be nice to me and my friends, and we took full advantage of him and tricked him and lied to him," she said. "We were stupid and put the pictures on the Internet. We made a mistake, and it's going to ruin my dad."

Superintendent Sandra Johnson with Hazard Independent Schools said Mobelini notified her of what happened.

Johnson said she interviewed the students and each told the same story "that Mr. Mobelini did not know they had alcohol with them and that they were drinking."

Johnson said no action will be taken against Mobelini from her office and it will not investigate further because the incident did not happen on school property and was not part of a school function.

Parents of the other four girls either could not be reached or declined to comment.

In April, Mobelini came under scrutiny after police arrested 12 students — all under age 21 — after they were found drinking at the Hazard High School football field.

Mobelini was with the students about 30 minutes before Hazard police arrived. Officers found half a dozen bottles of hard liquor and several cases of beer.

The students were charged with alcohol intoxication. They were sentenced to community service, according to court records available on those who were 18 years or older at the time of the charge.

At the time, Mobelini said the students were not drinking when he was there.

No charges have been filed against him. Police are still investigating how the students obtained alcohol.