She Told Classmates She Was 16. Police Say She Was 32

Former social worker accused of posing as a student at 3 Boston high schools
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2023 8:10 AM CDT
Cops: Woman, 32, Posed as Student at 3 High Schools
   (Getty Images/Holly Cromer)

Students at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston say the classmate they knew as Daniella chose the jersey number 32 when she joined the girls' basketball team. They didn't realize that was also her age. Investigators say former social worker Shelby Hewitt posed as a student at three Boston high schools during the 2022-23 school year, enrolling under different aliases and submitting forged documents, the New York Times reports. She faces charges including document forgery and identity fraud. Authorities say she worked off and on for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families from 2016 until February this year.

Boston school superintendent Mary Skipper said in a letter to families that Hewitt also attended Brighton High School and English High School, "utilizing the student transfer process and enrolling under multiple pseudonyms," WBUR reports. After a man claiming to be her father tried to withdraw her from English High earlier this month, saying she had been bullied, officials found irregularities in her paperwork and notified police. A criminal complaint filed against Hewitt does not give a motive for the deception and authorities have declined to comment further, though the "human trafficking" box is ticked on a police incident report from June 14.

Skipper said that so far, officials "have not identified any incidents of harm to students or staff." Classmates say Hewitt claimed to be 16 or 17 years old and they find the deception puzzling and disturbing. They say Hewitt ate lunch and gossiped with fellow students, though she often seemed upset, especially when teachers urged her to work harder. Janell Lamons, 15, who befriended the woman at Burke because she seemed lonely, says she claimed to be in foster care but her story kept changing, the Boston Globe reports. Other students say she dressed a little too well and seemed a little too old to be in high school. "It was low-key like she was lying about something," says Isaiah Price, 16. (More Boston stories.)

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