Woman who posed as Boston high schooler faces new felony charges

English High School in Jamaica Plain. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
English High School in Jamaica Plain. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The adult woman who falsely posed as a Boston public high school student last year was indicted Tuesday by a Suffolk County grand jury on nine counts, including forgery and identity fraud, according to court records.

Shelby Hewitt, 32, was initially charged in West Roxbury Municipal Court on several counts. She entered a not guilty plea during her July 17 arraignment.

Hewitt's case has since been moved to Suffolk County Superior Court. The grand jury charges announced Tuesday include: three counts of forgery, two counts of common law forgery, uttering false writing, larceny over $1,200 and false claims to an employer.

Hewitt, of Canton, is scheduled to appear Dec. 12 for her arraignment. Her attorney, Timothy Flaherty, told WBUR on Wednesday Hewitt will "answer to the charges she's facing."

“She looks forward to presenting a vigorous defense and I would hope that everyone keeps in mind that people who suffer from mental health challenges are entitled to the presumption of innocence,” he said.

Hewitt is a former social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families whose motives for falsely posing as a high schooler remain unknown. She allegedly presented Boston Public Schools officials with documents that falsified her birth date and used pseudonyms to enroll in three separate high schools in the 2022-23 school year: Jeremiah Burke High, Brighton High and English High.

Hewitt received a master’s degree in education and school counseling from UMass Boston in August 2016, a spokesman for that school confirmed.

Her stint as a BPS high schooler came to an end in June, when police were summoned to English High in Jamaica Plain after school officials first noticed irregularities in her enrollment paperwork.

BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper told families at the time no incidents of harm to students or staff had been identified due to Hewitt's actions. The Boston Globe has reported that Hewitt passed as a student without raising much suspicion — even playing on the girls' basketball team at the Burke — but often exhibited puzzling behavior to students interviewed.

Local media has cited Flaherty's remarks at Hewitt's July arraignment about a history of "severe mental health challenges." Flaherty said Wednesday the Suffolk County District Attorney's office has "conducted a full and complete investigation" and noted there is no allegation of any kind relating to human trafficking — a box that had been checked on the initial incident report from June.

Hewitt remains out of custody on bail. The issue will be revisited during her Suffolk County Superior Court arraignment, according to James Borghesani, spokesman for the DA's Office. Prosecutors may present a statement of evidence at that time.


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Suevon Lee Assistant Managing Editor, Education
Suevon Lee leads WBUR's education coverage.



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