Letter sent to parents of Dunlap juniors concerning safe sex a prank.
Rose Haines was a bit stunned Monday after she opened the day’s mail to find a letter she believed was from her daughter’s high school.
It said the Dunlap School Board had approved making condoms available to students free for the upcoming junior/senior prom in a week and a half, hoping to encourage safe sex and making responsible decisions.
The letter goes on to ask that parents talk with their children about safe sex and "discourage them from taking the risks involved with sexual intercourse …"
"I was a little shocked," Haines said Tuesday of her initial reading, surprised that school officials would allow such a move without bothering to ask parents, "but I wasn’t too worried, I trust my daughter."
Still, a bit skeptical and curious, Haines later visited the district’s Web site, finding a completely different note addressed to parents. It stated the mailed letter she had just received was a fake. Condoms would not be available.
"It’s a senior prank," says Dunlap High School Principal Tom Welsh, whose typed name appears on the fraudulent letters and envelopes. "At the same time, they crossed the line."
Welsh and other school officials believe, based on all the phone calls and e-mails received Monday and Tuesday, only parents of high school juniors were targeted — although some 200 letters may have been mailed Saturday.
Most parents were unbelieving and seeking reassurance.
"‘This isn’t real, right?’" Welsh said of the types of calls he received. "(The pranksters) definitely put in some effort."
The letter, which appears to be a scanned duplicate of the high school’s letterhead, is in color and includes a flying eagle — the school’s mascot — in one corner. Welsh and the assistant principal’s name bookend the opposite side of the page.
Even much of the wording sounds official: "… the minor cost of supplying contraceptives to students is greatly offset by the value of the health and safety of Dunlap students." And the envelopes incorporated address labels.
Postage and color copies alone could have put costs near $200.
"It looked like the real deal," Haines said.
Another parent, Kristi Bruch, said the last sentence tipped her off — that students are more likely to have sex with protection.
"It was pretty wild … as a parent, it’s just funny," Bruch said, noting school officials whose names are on the letter might be thinking otherwise.
Superintendent Jeanne Williams said the prank certainly goes beyond the typical toilet papering. "I don’t think Dunlap is unique in this."
The prank is certainly an update to placing an outhouse or Port-A-Potty on the school, spraying weed killer on the football field — and less destructive.
It’s not clear what kind of punishment school officials might dish out, if the author is ever discovered.
No one has confessed to the crime, said Welsh, who admittedly didn’t know if any crime was committed but filed a report with a Peoria County sheriff’s deputy.
Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons joked that the caper bordered on attempted assault, "because it nearly gave everybody a heart attack."
Dave Haney can be reached at (309) 686-3181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.