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Skeptical student IDs fake Lady Gaga, on Skype to discuss bullying

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN
  • Elementary school worker claimed she could get celebrity to speak
  • Last-minute substitute typed instead of speaking
  • New Jersey superintendent says employee was "misguided"

(CNN) -- A New Jersey school employee is under fire for enlisting an impersonator to fill in for Lady Gaga, who was slated to talk to elementary school students about the dangers of bullying, school officials said.

Tenafly Public Schools administrators were alerted of the gaffe by one school-aged Lady Gaga fan who wasn't fooled by a phony autographed photo of the pop star, superintendent Lynn Trager said.

"We are all disappointed and surprised," said Trager, who outlined the details of the May 25 stunt in a letter sent to elementary school parents in the district last week.

According to the letter, the staff member who arranged for Lady Gaga to give an anti-bullying presentation to students via Skype claimed to have a personal relationship with the singer. But in the 11th hour, Lady Gaga backed out.

"Knowing how disappointed the children would be, without authorization the staff developer made arrangements for an impersonator to take Lady Gaga's place -- a clear lapse in judgment," the letter said.

During the presentation, the impersonator claimed her microphone wasn't working and typed to students instead of speaking, Trager said.

School officials were tipped off to the incident by a skeptical student who wasn't convinced by the autographed photo of Lady Gaga that was distributed to students during the presentation.

"It was a student who discovered that the handwriting didn't look real to her," Trager said of how administrators were informed of the scam. The district immediately informed parents and suspended all future Skype guests.

"As soon as we discovered this we felt we owed it to the parents and students to be honest," Trager added.

She would not comment on what actions, if any, are being taken against the school employee behind the Lady Gaga-swapping caper.

In the letter to parents, Trager said she does not believe the employee intended to be malicious.

"Although her actions were inexcusable, I do believe that this was a misguided attempt to reward the children for their diligent preparation for the NJ ASK test," the letter reads, referring to a state standardized test, the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge.