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Mom fakes daughter's death for Costa Rica trip?

  • School coordinator accused of staging daughter's death for vacation time
  • Elaborate ruse included phony phone calls, fake certificate
  • Woman pleaded guilty for forging death certificate
Mom fakes daughter's death for Costa Rica trip?

Stories like these are what the phrase “SMH” was invented for. A New York educator faked her own daughter’s death just so she could take a long vacation in Costa Rica.

WCBS New York reports last March, Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, had one of her daughters call the school and say her sister (Barnett’s daughter) had a heart attack while in Costa Rica. Later that day, the family made another call to the school claiming Barnett’s daughter had died, and she would need bereavement time to attend the funeral.

Barnett also forged her own daughter’s death certificate to qualify her for bereavement, according to the station's report. She then jetted off for two-and-a-half weeks of vacation time in Costa Rica.

According to a job posting from the NYC Department of Education, as a parent coordinator Barnett was in charge of creating a welcoming environment for parents, and handling parent and community concerns. 

Barnett's school first thought something might be amiss after someone noticed the lettering on the certificate Barnett submitted seemed a bit off. After a few calls to Costa Rican officials, they confirmed that the certificate actually belonged to a man who had died five years earlier. According to WPIX, Richard Condon, a special schools investigator, says he searched airline records and found Barnett had actually booked her tickets weeks in advance, well before her daughter's "death." 

Needless to say, Barnett, 58, was fired. She also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, since it is illegal to forge a death certificate.

Pretty elaborate plan to snag a few extra days off ... and our heads are still shaking.

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