Oak Park police dispel OPRF 'rumors'

Letter to parents warned about possible disclosure of private information

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Officials at Oak Park and River Forest High School sent a letter to parents Oct. 28, informing them of circulating rumors that a male student was preparing to disclose "private and personal information" about other male students and that the targets of those disclosures were preparing to retaliate.

After Oak Park police investigated what the letter called "unsubstantiated rumors," a second letter to parents over the weekend said the situation was under control. Sgt. Michael Richardson confirmed Monday the investigation was over.

Kay Foran, the school's communications director, said OPRF officials learned about the rumors on Oct. 25, but decided to send the letter to parents after hearing Thursday night about possible retaliation. She wouldn't say whether it was students, staff or parents who reported the retaliation rumor.

According to the letter, signed by Superintendent Steven Isoye and Principal Nathaniel Rouse, "Since first learning of these rumors, OPRFHS staff members have focused on intensive interventions with the identified students. We believe these efforts have been successful; however, the initial rumors have taken on a life of their own."

Wednesday Journal has learned the rumors may have had to do with a student planning to out other students who are alleged to be gay. Foran would not comment on that aspect of the investigation.

"OPRFHS is convinced that no such written disclosure of private, personal information has occurred," the Sunday letter said.

Foran said on Monday no one had been suspended or expelled from the school and no one had been referred for a disciplinary hearing as far as she had heard.

Whenever there are unsubstantiated threats, Foran said, you "can't gamble that you guess wrong when it comes to student safety."

The incident occurred in the same week that the November issue of Seventeen Magazine contained an article about a list ranking girls' looks at the school last year. The first letter from Isoye and Rouse said the more recent incident "reminds us of how vital it is we teach our students to treat each other with respect."

Reader Comments

27 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Tv watcher from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 11:56 PM

The police dismissed it because they watched the South Park episode from two weeks ago gave some kid this idea and know it's a joke. Let's not all be so anxious to go off the deep end. Kids will be kids.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 3:00 PM

If the Police were involved, it must have been something that required more then the school to handle.

LiquidEvil  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 1:58 PM

Since none of you know what the info to be released was nor do you know what the threat of retaliation entailed, it's kinda hard to make a judgement as to how the school handled it. I think OPRF's biggest mistake was in sending out the email and not dealing with the situation privately.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:24 PM

Thin Skinned, that would require parents admitting they lack basic parenting skills. You won't get anyone to agree to that.

Thin skinned from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:20 PM

Half these comments are crazy. OPRF should spend some of the 2 million in surplus on parental comprehension skills.

Ed  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:17 PM

Wait....WHY are the police involved? What's illegal about this? Heck, just call it the Oak Park Times and the kid would be protected by freedom of the press.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:16 PM

Eilene, that's the old way of doing things. OPRF HS likes to be progressive with handling unruly students. I like the old Cheech and Chong segment. "Bailiff, whack his pee pee".

Ed  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:12 PM

What is it with Oak Park kids and all these lists? Maybe they wouldn't do it so much if it wasn't a giant news story every time.

Eilene McCullagh Heckman from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 12:09 PM

I'm shocked! Rumors...in a High School! *gasp* What happened to pulling all of the suspects into their dean's office and telling them if they made trouble...they'd be in in-school? Now parents are supposed to play good cop bad cop at the dinner table?

Mimi  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 11:52 AM

What awesome suggestions! God forbid the administration should put any limits on student behavior.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 11:20 AM

I like that name, "wrap around support". If some cat is going to out a bunch of other cats who are gay, maybe that's why gay's have kept being gay in the closet. But I don't think being gay is like it use to be since it's very popular to be gay, and there is nothing like being gay in Oak Park. So everyone can relax, it's just kids doing what they have always done to each other.

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 10:53 AM

@Fist Pump: not if you home school. If you home school, you learn that Mommy will be with you 24/7 and you will learn what Mommy knows. Of course, if Mommy only knows that vaccines are bad, the earth is flat and Adam and Eve were the first humans, you might be getting less than the best education. You will also learn that being with peers is scary (though that doesnt stop these freaks from having home school proms - talk about a great reality show!)

Fist Pump  

Posted: October 31st, 2011 7:58 AM

what happens now? print 5,000 shirts with the word respect on them? Kids get made fun of in high school. Dealing with it is part of growing up.

Susan St. John from River Forest  

Posted: October 29th, 2011 11:19 AM

Just another example of the advancement of the police state occurring in our country.Instead of being taught self-reliance our kids(especially boys) are being taught to be docile and dependent on authority-you know what I mean-like when a kid is punched in the face and he defends himself he is suspended or charged with a hate crime.Dealing with trials and tribulations as a kid is what helps a person grow into a healthy and INDEPENDENT adult. Why do liberals have such distaste for self-reliance?

Drama Queens! from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2011 6:34 AM

Jeez...it's not a bomb threat....it sounds like some kid is going to "out" other kids. Bummer. Put the school counselors on call, and download a brochure from PFLAG, and roll the "It Gets Better" video. But do we really need to alert the news media and implement the crisis plan?

When Did Gossip Prevention Become a Priority? from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2011 6:29 AM

I'm continually amazed by how the basic high school gossip and daily teen drama has now risen to a new level. How is this news? I guess I applaud OPRF for being "on top of this" but I'm shocked that this is even an issue that they are forced to deal with. So much for a quality education, our administration is focused on preventing gossip. How sad.

Colors  

Posted: October 29th, 2011 1:03 AM

Hows the law suit against the Village doing? How much tax dollars have you spent of OUR money yr to date?????

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 7:18 PM

Why doesn't the school simply have a no nonsense code of conduct. Any student who sends out a "list" would be outside the code of conduct and subject to disciplinary action.

Concerned Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 2:53 PM

Godd Lord! Stop being so critical all the time. I'm impressed that the school is on this, and that some poor soul was up at 4am working on it. You just can't win in this village!

OPRF parent  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 1:42 PM

And yes, of course, I will discuss this with my student at night. But no, in the future I won't be checking my e-mail at 4 (or 5) am to find out what I should be listening for each morning before my student goes to school.

OPRF parent  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 1:12 PM

They could have said something useful - like that they would be discussing this with students this morning - not asking me to listen to what my student says while he/she is at school and I am at work or home.

Another OPRF Parent  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 1:02 PM

OPRF Parent, what would you have liked the HS to do? Presumably they just found out about this last night. (If they knew earlier, then that's a different matter.) But they sent the email at 4AM in the morning! That means someone was awake and trying to deal with this for most of last night. And what would you have done differently if you'd checked your email and found out about this before your child went to school? Talked with him about it? You can (and probably should) do that tonight...

Amy McCormack  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 12:56 PM

Administrators,staff & police worked on this rapidly evolving situation all night last night.Many involved have now been on site in the building for 30 hours or more.Communication with parents during overnight hours in an uncertain and rapidly changing situation is very challenging.Those involved made a valiant effort to get some communication out while simultaneously working diligently to help impacted students and to keep our school safe for all. Brilliant? I think so. Grateful? Absolutely.

OPRF parent  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 12:48 PM

I'm not suggesting that the school take a "gloves off" approach - in fact far from it. I am, however, suggesting that the HS staff think about the information they send to parents and make an effort to assure that it makes sense. As to sending a text - when my sick kid sent me a text I texted back to go to the nurse, then I called the nurse - and she yelled at me! Are communication skills part any anybody's job description?

FormerOakParker  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 12:37 PM

This is why I home-school my kids. Half the school day is spent dealing with this kind of crap that has nothing to do with learning. Unless you all think it's important to "learn" how to deal with a potential snitch? I guess that's one lesson being learned at OPRF...

OPRF parent 2  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 12:36 PM

OPRF parent. We need to have some patience with the OPRF staff. I believe that they try to handle these unfortunate situations with care and respect for the students affected. It may not be the "throw off the gloves" tactic that we all feel at first, but I trust they will do the right thing. I think the answer to your question(s) is yes. Text your child so that he knows what is going on. I would encourage you to also talk with OPRF staff.

OPRF parent  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 12:07 PM

Brilliant! I opened my e-mail this morning to find that I should "be attuned" to my student's conversation about something that may be happening at school TODAY. Duh, my son is already at school. So what should I do? Send him a text? Pull him out of school? Or maybe sit back and get ready for the HS's explanation for this latest example of ineffective communication.

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