A woman was apprehended in northern New Jersey this week after allegedly using a forged birth certificate to enroll at a local high school, authorities said.
The woman, identified as Hyejeong Shin, 29, faces a single, third-degree charge for providing a false government document with intent to verify age or identity, the New Brunswick Police Department said in a news release issued after her arrest on Tuesday. Shin is accused of presenting a fake birth certificate to the New Brunswick Board of Education in an attempt to attend public high school classes "as a juvenile" student, according to the police department.
As the department noted, New Jersey state statutes, coupled with recommendations from the New Jersey Department of Education, require schools "to immediately enroll unaccompanied children, even in the absence of records normally required for enrollment," whether those children can immediately provide proof of guardianship or not.
"Proof of guardianship is not necessary to immediately enroll an unaccompanied child or youth," New Brunswick police said in Wednesday's news release. "Although a school district might request documents such as a birth certificate to verify a child's age, a school district may not prevent or discourage a child, including an unaccompanied child, from enrolling in or attending school because he or she lacks a birth certificate or has records that indicate a foreign place of birth, such as a foreign birth certificate."
The administration at New Brunswick High School circulated a letter explaining Shin's arrest and the accusations against her, which also contained her picture, CBS New York reported, adding that she had only attended classes with other students for four days.
"She was pretending to be a freshman, which is more surprising because I don't believe she looks like a freshman," one student at New Brunswick High School told the station. Another student told CBS New York that Shin sent text messages to several classmates asking them to "hang out."
"Some of the girls I know, the girl did ask them to hang out at Commercial Avenue, but they never showed up, and she started acting weird with them," the student said. "It's scary because you never know what could happen."
The mother of a senior at New Brunswick High School told CBS News she was worried about the situation and asked how Shin was able to successfully enroll and attend classes without staff and security realizing her age. While the police investigation is underway, the school superintendent reportedly said that administrators will review their enrollment process and determine ways to better identify false documents going forward, according to the station.
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