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School employee fakes daughter's death

January 9, 2012 1:54:01 PM PST
A mother lost her job at a New York school for faking her daughter's death.

Officials say she made up the story so she could get out of New York and enjoy a vacation in Costa Rica.

A bizarre case is leaving investigators still shaking their heads.

A parent coordinator who was employed by the city at the Manhattan School of Hospitality Management is accused of stooping to an unheard of low.

According to the recently unsealed report, city investigators say they found that last March, Joan Barnett, faked her own daughter's death and even gave a fake death certificate, all so she could extend her spring break vacation to Costa Rica.

The news is shocking to students, of an alleged scheme that started, investigators say with phone calls to the school from Barnett's daughter, claiming her sister in Costa Rica was sick.

"Another called and said she died of a heart attack the whole family going down for the wake and funeral," said Richard Condon, DOI Special Commissioner.

But instead, investigators learned, Barnett took a flight to Costa Rica that she booked weeks before her daughter supposedly died.

Then, there was the death certificate.

It's a requirement to excuse her absence that investigators say the principal immediately recognized as a fake.

"The fonts, there were different sized fonts, the name didn't seem to relate to Barnett," Condon said.

And upon checking with Costa Rican officials they learned the numbers on that certificate were for a man's death in 2005, not for the daughter Barnett claimed so suddenly died.

She pleaded guilty to forgery, costing her this job and the respect of the students she worked with.

"Doing that to a child just to go on a vacation that isn't right," said Destiny Davis, a student.

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