School Employee Fakes Child’s Death for Vacation Days

Joan Barnett just wanted an excuse to ditch work and go to Costa Rica. So sue her.

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Sometimes the allure of paradise can bring out the worst in a person

We all need a vacation sometimes. Some of us, however, are apparently more willing than others to do anything – truly anything – to get one. In March 2010, New York City school employee Joan Barnett decided she wanted to extend her spring break in Costa Rica. A simple solution presented itself: fake her daughter’s death.

Foolproof, right?

The New York Daily News reports that Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, had one of her daughters contact the school and explain that her sister had suffered a fatal heart attack in Costa Rica. Naturally, then, Barnett would be forced to hop on a plane and attend the funeral.

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Soon, Barnett indeed found herself soaking up the sun, enjoying a vacation that lasted two and a half weeks. She even faxed a forged death certificate to her employer, as required if a city school employee requests time off for bereavement. But school officials grew wary, eventually contacting city investigators who determined that the certificate’s identification numbers linked to a man who had died in 2005. When confronted, Barnett continued to uphold the elaborate ruse, even presenting a new death certificate altogether.

In addition to her credibility, Barnett ultimately lost her job, which paid $37,000 a year. When the case eventually went to court this past fall, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Somehow, a spring break spent stuck at home doesn’t seem so bad after all.

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