Boston Public Schools

Frustration after safety hearing on Boston imposter student case canceled

A Boston Public Schools mother and daughter thought they finally found the chance to talk about their concerns with others at a City Council Committee on Education hearing, only to find out it was canceled at the last minute

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Boston Public Schools student Jannell Lamons wants to know how a 32-year-old woman infiltrated the Boston Public School system last year, but now it looks like she might start her sophomore year without any answers.

“Right now, I’m feeling kind of frustrated," Lamons told NBC10 Boston. “Somebody could change their identity, change their name and do it all over again and we would never know.”

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Shelby Hewitt, a former Massachusetts Department of Children and Families worker, is accused of faking paperwork and passing herself off as a teenager to attend three Boston Public High Schools this past year. She’s now facing criminal charges, but parents and students want to know what the district is doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Shelby Hewitt was in Boston Municipal Court in West Roxbury to face charges on Monday, July 17, 2023, over allegedly providing fake names to be admitted to three Boston high schools.

"I feel like we still don’t have answers that we still deserve at this point," Lamons said.

Lamons and her mother, Robin Williams, have been reaching out to city officials for weeks looking for answers, to no avail. After hearing from several concerned families like Williams and Lamons, Boston City Councilor Erin Murphy decided to co-sponsor a City Council Committee on Education hearing on Aug. 3, where their voices could be heard.

"For me, I filed the hearing order to address that situation but also the procedures, right? What are in place to allow something like this to happen," Murphy said. “The soccer team, the basketball team, other people are feeling -- I know it's summer time -- but that this happened, summer happened, and that they’re not really getting answers from the school department. And when they call my office -- and I know Councilor Mejia feels the same way -- we don't really have answers because we’re not getting answers from the school department either.”

Murphy said that the school district told the City Council to cancel the hearing on Aug. 2, just one day before, citing the ongoing investigation.

Boston Public Schools doesn't have the power to remove hearings from the City Council's schedule, according to the agency. A representative didn't answer questions from NBC10 Boston about whether it's making any procedural changes to prevent this from happening again, instead sending this statement:

"We are deeply troubled that an adult would breach the trust of our school communities by posing as a student. This appears to be a case of extremely sophisticated fraud against the Boston Public Schools, our students, our staff, and our families by an individual with intimate knowledge of the system. In order to protect the integrity of the criminal proceedings that are currently underway, BPS cannot comment further."

Parents and Boston city councilors say they feel like the administration can do more.

“The investigation may go on for a while but I do think we can get answers about enrollment and what requirements are needed," Murphy said.

“They need to come forward," Williams said. "Stop hiding behind your legal system. Stand up and take accountability that ya’ll dropped the ball, point blank.”

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