28-year-old woman posed as teen to learn English, sheriff says

Authorities said a 28-year-old woman accused of using fake documents to enroll as a high school student was not trying to hurt kids. (WVUE)
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 3:16 PM EDT
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ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. (WVUE/Gray News) - Authorities in St. Charles Parish said a 28-year-old woman accused of using fake documents to enroll as a high school student was not trying to hurt any kids.

Sheriff Greg Champagne held a press conference Wednesday afternoon, saying he wanted to ease parents’ minds.

“The young lady caused no problems, she did nothing inappropriate with any other students, kept to herself, went home, didn’t engage in any other criminal or inappropriate behavior,” Champagne said.

Marta Elizeth Serrano-Alvarado, 46, and her 28-year-old daughter Martha Jessenia Gutierrez-Serrano were booked on one count each of injuring public records.

Champagne says the two created a fake passport and birth certificate from Honduras so that Gutierrez-Serrano could get a good education at Hahnville High School and better her English.

Champagne said the mother was in the country on an expired visa and the daughter has documentation of being processed by the federal government, coming into the U.S. in late fall of 2021, but he was unable to comment on their most current immigration status.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools superintendent Dr. Ken Oertling plans to audit all enrollment records of current students and evaluate from there.

“It’s my sincere hope that this particular incident will bring awareness to school systems in Louisiana and throughout our country the need to review and enhance their student enrollment processes,” Oertling said.

Neither Champagne nor Oertling would go into detail about the 28-year-old student’s involvement in any clubs, athletics or extracurriculars. They cited FERPA – the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – saying they are protecting the privacy of their students.

“Whether it’s the student we’re mentioning today or any student in our schools, we’re not going to mention anything about something that may be linked to a potential student record, which could include activities they belonged to, their grades, disciplinary purposes and so on and so forth,” Oertling said.

Both women were held on $30,000 bonds for their alleged crimes. Champagne said they made those bonds within a few hours of booking and were released from custody.