Caught: Woman Pretends to Be 17-Year-Old High Schooler!

A 28-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly masquerading as a 17-year-old student and attending a Louisiana high school throughout the school year. The suspect, Martha Jessenia Gutierrez-Serrano, reportedly adopted the false identity to pursue her goal of learning English. The incident has sparked concerns regarding school security and enrollment verification processes.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that Gutierrez-Serrano, along with her mother, Marta Elizeth Serrano-Alvarado, have been charged with one count of injuring public records. Serrano-Alvarado allegedly used a fraudulent passport and birth certificate to enroll her adult daughter at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana. The school, located approximately 25 miles west of New Orleans, initiated an investigation after receiving a tip questioning the student’s age discrepancy.

Martha Jessenia Gutierrez-Serrano and her mom (Image via Andres Fuentes/Facebook)

During a news conference, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne stated that Gutierrez-Serrano was “in school, she minded her own business, she did her schoolwork, she caused no trouble.” Authorities believe her motive was genuinely to learn English and further her education. However, presenting falsified documents to the government, regardless of personal circumstances, was deemed an act of bad judgment.

The fake birth certificate, sourced from Honduras, was remarkably authentic in appearance, making it difficult for school officials to identify the deception. Upon discovering the potential fraud, school authorities promptly shared their findings with the authorities on May 29, leading to the subsequent arrest of Gutierrez-Serrano and her mother.

Sheriff Champagne emphasized that students are entitled to a role in the public school system, irrespective of their immigration status and that inquiring about such status is not within the purview of the school’s responsibility. The mother, Serrano-Alvarado, had been residing in the U.S. for a significant period but had an expired visa.

The St. Charles Parish school district has expressed its commitment to strengthening enrollment verification procedures and enhancing processes to determine the authenticity of enrollment documents. This incident has brought attention to the importance of stricter measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

As the legal proceedings move forward, the case raises questions about the vulnerability of educational institutions to identity fraud. The incident serves as a reminder that even seemingly trusted systems must remain vigilant and implement necessary safeguards to ensure the integrity of their enrollment processes.

While sympathy is warranted for Gutierrez-Serrano’s desire to learn English and further her education, the consequences of submitting falsified documents cannot be ignored. As this story unfolds, it serves as a cautionary tale for both educational institutions and individuals seeking admission, highlighting the importance of adhering to legal and ethical practices to avoid potential legal ramifications.

ABC News


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