Students and families in New Brunswick, N.J., are demanding answers after an adult woman managed to enroll at the local high school and attend classes for nearly a week.
Hyejeong Shin, 29, was arrested Tuesday and charged with providing a false government document with the intent to verify one’s identity or age, according to a press release from the New Brunswick Police Department.
The department says Shin “provided a false birth certificate” to the local Board of Education “with the intent to enroll as a juvenile” at the high school.
Superintendent Dr. Aubrey Johnson said Shin “attended school for four days,” according to a Twitter video from the district’s Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, shared by New Brunswick Today reporter Charlie Kratovil.
Shin took “a few classes,” but spent most of her time with the guidance department as they attempted to learn more about her background, Johnson said.
School staff eventually “uncovered this woman’s ruse and enabled us to address this situation promptly,” he added, according to NBC News.
Shin is now prohibited from entering the district’s properties, Johnson said, per Kratovil’s video.
Many members of the community are up in arms over the incident. Video submitted to CBS New York shows hundreds of students protesting in the hallways of their school.
One student, Tatianna, told New Brunswick Today that she not only “was in class with this woman,” but conversed with her as well. She also regretfully gave the woman “personal information.”
“Not knowing she was a 29-year-old woman makes me question how safe I am in this building,” said the young woman, who now believes she was “taken advantage of” by Shin.
Another student told CBS New York that the woman acted strange when asked about her age. “She looked at me and looked back at me and walked off,” the unnamed student said, adding that she saw the encounter as a “red flag.”
Some students received text messages from Shin asking to hang out, according to CBS New York and New Brunswick Today.
An unnamed student told New Brunswick Today that the woman asked some female students “to hang out at Commercial Avenue, but they never showed up.”
Afterward, the student said Shin “started acting weird with them,” per the report.
Michael Castro shared a similar account with the outlet. He suggested the woman was attempting to “lure kids to a specific street.”
Students have been told to refrain from having any further contact with her, either remotely or in person.
However, students were still receiving messages from the woman as recently as Monday, according to both New Brunswick Today and Insider.
Students were unable to address the issues with the Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting due to a 2021 rule that requires speakers to sign up at least 24 hours before the meeting in question, New Brunswick Today reported.
NBHS student Ethan Calderon told the newspaper, “We feel so unsafe and nobody wants to listen to us.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Johnson said the Board of Education will reassess the schools’ enrollment process in wake of the recent incident, per New Brunswick Today‘s report.
Under New Jersey law, schools must “immediately enroll unaccompanied children, even in the absence of records,” the NBPD said. Proof of guardianship, they added, “is not necessary to immediately enroll an unaccompanied child or youth.”
It is unclear if Shin has a lawyer who can comment on her behalf.