School Billboard Leads to Pubic (er, Public) Humiliation

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Funny Stuff


Heh. Heh. That sign says "pubic."

Misspelling "public" as "pubic" is not an uncommon typo, but something about it bring outs the snickering Beavis and Butt-Head in people.

But not everyone in South Bend, Ind., is finding the humor in an electronic billboard that advertised the "15 Best Things About Our Pubic Schools."

Reactions have ranged from junior high tittering to full-bore outrage, the man who takes responsibility for the sign tells ParentDish.

A lot of that outrage has been directed at city and school district officials, says Patrick Strickler, the president of the Blue Waters Group. And that's a shame, he adds. It's not their fault.

Strickler's organization put up the misspelled message Sept. 16, as part of the work it does for the City of South Bend's Redevelopment Commission to promote the community.

"I take full responsibility," Strickler tells ParentDish. "There's been a lot outrage and finger-pointing at the city, but they had nothing to do with it. I'm the one taking the fall here."

Calls to school superintendent Jim Kaspa were directed to Sue Coney, the district's director of communications. She has so far not returned telephone messages.

The electronic billboard is located at the intersection of Ironwood and State Road 23. The message went up in the afternoon on Sept. 16, Strickler says, and was removed and corrected by 9 a.m. the following Monday morning.

By that time, however, plenty of people had time to notice and comment on the typo.

Lee MacMillan of South Bend posted the picture he took of the sign on Facebook. He also e-mailed it to his neighbor, Superintendent Kapsa.

"Amazingly, four people reviewed and proofed the message before it went up," Strickler tells ParentDish. "Not one person saw the misspelling."

Strickler, a former newspaperman, says he knows errors (or "type lice," as they are known in the business) have an uncanny ability to hide until they are in front of the pubic -- er, make that public.

He says he's received a lot of calls from newspaper reporters on this story, most of whom have regaled him with tales of other typos.

Related: Teen Spots Error on State Writing Test

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.