New Brunswick

Woman, 29, Arrested After Enrolling at NJ High School and Posing as Student

School officials said the woman had been going to classes, pretending to be a teenager for four days — and while students said she was making friends, they fear she might have been trying to recruit girls for sex trafficking

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A 29-year-old woman is facing charges after she allegedly posed as someone almost half her age and enrolled in a New Jersey high school.

Now people want to know: How did she trick administrators, and why?

More than 2,000 students attend New Brunswick High School, all teenagers learning how to become adults. But police said one of those students was no teen — but rather an adult woman nearing 30 who lied on her birth certificate to enroll in school.  

Police said Hyejeong Shin was charged Tuesday with providing a false government document. School officials said she had been going to classes, pretending to be a teenager for four days before they caught onto her and ordered her off the property.

It wasn't immediately made clear why Shin did so. Students at the school told the local paper, New Brunswick Today, that she was making friends — and fear she might have been trying to recruit girls for sex trafficking.

“I think she was really trying to traffic young women which is what anybody who hears about this needs to be aware of your surroundings," said Abrianna Martin, a senior at the school. "I heard she was still trying to contact some of the young girls here even after we found out."

Other teens in the neighborhood called it a terrifying prospect.

“Honestly, I would be really scared," said 16-year-old Desiree Daly. "Having someone that’s not from my school or knowing anyone around me coming to school that’s older than me and talking to me, not having a good intention in my school and around my friends. It’s frightening."

School Superintendent Dr. Aubrey Johnson addressed the issue at a school board meeting Tuesday night, saying "certainly we have cautioned all our students, preferably those who may have encountered this person while she was in our high school."

Students have been told to stop all contact with her, online or in person. The superintendent also said the district has directly contact the parents of students that she made contact with.

"She had a fake birth certificate. That’s kind of scary because the schools usually do their jobs as far as records and so forth," said parent Victor Daly. "So to know that right now is kind of nerve-wracking."

In a statement, Johnson said the district was following the law.

"A student requesting admission without being able to prove their identity must be provisionally admitted to the school. From that point, the student has 30 days to provide information that confirms their identity or the school district will have the option of declaring them ineligible to attend classes," the statement read.

The district said that once they figured out they were dealing with a fraudulent situation, they called the police immediately. That said, they will be reviewing school policy and state law to see how they can prevent this from happening again.

NBC New York was unable to get in contact with Shin, and neither the police nor the school district responded to requests for further information on what her motive may have been.

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