Residents in a New Jersey community were baffled upon discovering a 29-year-old woman faked her age so she could attend a local high school with other students half her age.
Hyejeong Shin was arrested after she allegedly submitted falsified documents, including a forged birth certificate, so she could enroll at New Brunswick High School.
The situation was addressed at a New Brunswick School Board meeting where an official said Shin attended a few classes for four days last week but spent the majority of her time with guidance counselors who were trying to get more information from her.
Eventually, her jig was up and she was barred from entering the campus.
New Brunswick Superintendent of Schools Aubrey Johnson said at the meeting:
"All appropriate authorities were notified and the individual in question has now been arrested."
Here are some images of the suspect.
The Superintendent of the school said the district is required by law to admit new students without a guardian and/or proper identification provisionally under the condition applicants provide the necessary paperwork within 30 days to be eligible.
Shin was reportedly ordered to leave when the school wasn't able to verify her documentation.
Her motives remain unclear but students at the school suspected she had malicious intent—including as part of a possible human trafficking scheme.
See one of the news reports below:
29-Year-Old Woman LIES on Birth Certificate to Attend New Jersey High School | NBC New Yorkyoutu.be
Johnson said the district contacted the parents of students she may have come into contact with and advised students who possibly interacted with Shin to cut her off immediately.
The New Brunswick Police Department confirmed Shin was charged on Tuesday with falsifying government documents with the intent to verify one’s identity or age, a third-degree crime.
The department said in a statement shared with ABC News:
“Specifically, Ms. Shin provided a false birth certificate to the New Brunswick Board of Education with the intent to enroll as a juvenile high-school student."
People had plenty to say about the bizarre incident.
While social media users couldn't help but react with humor, it was different for the students back at the school.
Teens were shocked to hear about the incident, and they were immediately concerned for their safety and questioned the competence of the administration in protecting them.
The students of the school were permitted to attend the board meeting but they were not allowed to speak.
However, some were able to express their frustration with New Brunswick Today.
You can hear their comments in the video below.
NBToday Interviews NBHS Students After BOE Wouldn't Let Them Speak - 1/24/2023youtu.be
One male student told the media outlet that Shin had allegedly texted the number of one of his fellow classmates to try and "lure them to a specific street."
"Administration isn't taking proper safety protocols to ensure a safe environment for the New Brunswick students."
"Honestly, how do you expect students to feel safe in an environment like this?"
"Luckily, no one was harmed. But anyone in New Brunswick could have been a potential victim of a sex/human trafficking scheme."
A female student said she felt "taken advantage" after she offered to walk Shin to her classes to make her feel “comfortable in a new school with a whole new atmosphere.”
Upon reflection, the same student said on the verge of tears:
“Now knowing she was a 29-year-old woman makes me question how safe I am in this building."
“I gave this woman my personal information in case she ever needed help moving around the high school."
"Last night she contacted me ... asking how I was."
"As soon as I saw the message, I blocked the number and couldn’t fall asleep for the next two hours.”