After receiving a tip that a 17-year-old student at Hahnville High School was instead an adult, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a 28-year-old Martha Jessenia Gutierrez-Serrano, and her 46-year-old mother, Marta Elizeth Serrano-Alvarado. Sheriff Greg Champagne said the two are charged with Injuring Public Records.
“As far as we know she did nothing inappropriate at all, merely attended school. The information we got about the reason for her doing this was simple, she wanted to learn English, she wanted to become proficient at English,” said Champagne.
He said investigators found a falsified Honduran birth certificate was used so she could attend school.
Champagne said they wanted to notify the public especially those with children who attend Hahnville High School that there is no evidence of any other criminal activity or inappropriate behavior. He said many are surprised how a 28-year-old woman was able to pose as a 17-year-old student for the last year.
“I saw the photograph and she looked to me like a young teenager. So, I’m not surprised at all that based upon appearances alone, she was certainly accepted at face value for the age that the falsified birth certificate said,” Champagne explained.
Champagne said there are other options available for those who want to learn English as a second language.
“There are GED programs available, they may not have been as convenient as a public high school two miles away, but those options are available. Certainly, that is a much better option than falsifying an official government document,” said Champagne.
Because the student did not have any transcripts when she enrolled, she was placed in the ninth grade.