Police in New York state said that a 32-year-old woman pretended to be a 15-year-old homeless girl in order to enroll in a high school.
Michaelann Goodrich took the bus to and from Cairo-Durham High School on Dec. 20, 2018, after enrolling in classes. She was absent the following day, winter break started the day after that, and that she was arrested on Dec. 28.
She was charged with first-degree offering false instrument for filing, a class E felony; first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony; and third-degree criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, reported the Columbia-Greene Media.
District Superintendent Anthony Taibi told WNYT that administrators sensed something was off and launched an investigation.
But, he added, under the McKinney-Vento Act, the district had to admit Goodrich immediately because she claimed to be homeless.
Joel Rowell, a senior investigator with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, is one of the investigators assigned to the case.
He said that officials are still probing Goodrich’s motive in pretending to be a teen.
“She could’ve gone in numerous different ways to obtain a degree and we actually found out through the investigation and that she has a high school diploma,” Rowell said. “So that just leads to our investigation to try to figure out what exactly her motive was for attending school.”
The district superintendent wasn’t sure if mental illness played a role in the lies.
“I can’t speculate on that,” Taibi told the Columbia-Greene Media. “I don’t know what her motives were.”
Police officials added that they’re not sure as of yet if Goodrich previously made other attempts to enter schools under false pretenses.
Anyone who came into contact with Goodrich was asked to call the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Woman Accused of Posing as Student for 7 Months
In 2014, a 34-year-old woman was arrested and accused of posing as a high school student for seven months, or nearly an entire school year.
Charity Anne Johnson was enrolled under the name Charity Stevens at New Life Christian School in Longview, Texas.
“Everyone we talked to assumed she was a teenager like she said she was, because she looked like one,” Stuart Newlin, principal of the school, told ABC. He said he wasn’t sure of the motivation, calling it a mystery.
Johnson didn’t bring in transcripts but said she had been homeschooled and came in with a guardian.
“There was no reason to be suspicious,” Newlin said. “Usually, parents come in, they fill out the paperwork and we take their word for it. If they come from another school, you transfer records. If they come from home school, they don’t have those records.”
Johnson fooled many, including Tamica Lincoln, with whom the purported teen had been staying.
“She acted like a kid. She did her homework. She got good report cards,” Lincoln, 30, said. The pair met at a McDonald’s where they both worked, and Lincoln became her caregiver after the woman said her parents died and her sister kicked her out.
“I allowed her to come into my house,” Lincoln said. “I was just trying to be nice and kindhearted and get her out of the situation she was in.”
Johnson was later released from jail after pleading guilty to failure to identify/giving false, fictitious information. She served 29 days.