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29-year-old woman arrested for enrolling in high school, pretending to be a teen

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 30, 2023 2:51 pm

Action comedy 21 Jump Street (2012) and romcom Never Been Kissed (1999) revolve around adult characters posing as high school students, the former to crack down on illegal drugs while the latter to research teenage culture.

While passable in fiction, it's a different matter altogether in real life, like in New Jersey where a 29-year-old woman enrolled in a high school pretending to be a 15-year-old, attending classes, and collecting students' phone numbers.

The woman, identified by the police as Hyejeong Shin according to the New York Times, was arrested on Jan. 24 and was charged with falsification of documents.

Shin, as first reported by local outlet New Brunswick Today though didn't identify her, attended New Brunswick High School for four days before getting caught and ousted.

“All appropriate authorities were immediately notified, and the individual in question has now been arrested for providing false documentation," Superintendent Aubrey Johnson told the Board of Education during a Jan. 24 meeting.

Citing an anonymous source, New Brunswick Today reported Shin raised suspicion because the identity of her parent or legal guardian wasn't clear.

When she asked to sign herself out of school and wasn't allowed to leave the building as officials pointed out that she's a minor, she then dropped the bomb that she's actually 29.

Shin's motivations for the deception remain unclear, though the community feared she may have been attempting to lure young people into sex work, New Brunswick Today reported.

New Brunswick High School said it will review its enrollment procedures and evaluate “how to better look for fake documentation and other things."

Shin has been barred from campus, and students were urged to end communication with her.

About a dozen students also attended the Board of Education meeting, but weren't allowed to speak up for supposedly failing to register in advance.

Instead, they aired their grievances to a New Brunswick Today reporter.

The students said Shin was asking to meet with some of them outside school.

“We feel so unsafe and nobody wants to listen to us,” student Ethan Calderon told New Brunswick Today. “Do they not care about us because we’re minorities?”

Another student, Tatianna, said Shin last texted her on Jan. 23 at 10:56 p.m.

“Not knowing she was a 29-year-old woman makes me question how safe I am in this building,” Tatianna said, adding she was “taken advantage of."

“If [Shin] has the ability to falsify documents, enter a public high school, have close contact with young students,” Tatianna added, “she has the ability to do anything.”