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July 23rd, 2010
06:42 AM ET

Teacher fakes cancer

A special education teacher from Middletown, Pennsylvania was arrested after allegedly lying to her school district about having an inoperable brain tumor, according to an article by ABC News.

Leslie Herneisey apparently began telling people that she had a brain tumor nine years ago to get time off of work. She even accepted money raised by colleagues for a free trip to Disney World for her and her family.

Herneisey's lawyer, Terrence McGowan, said Herneisey suffers from clinical depression and spent the days she got off for her "cancer treatment" at home with the lights off.

Herneisey is not the first person we have seen lie.

We want to know- what have you faked to get out of something you didn't want to do?

Please share your stories below and Kyra will read some on the air during the 10am ET hour of the CNN Newsroom.


Filed under: Anchors • CNN Newsroom • Kyra Phillips • What the...?
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Yes theres no telling how many times ive faked being sick to get out of school but when I started working and getting paid a herd of wild horses couldnt keep me away .

    July 23, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  2. AP

    I once called out of work with the excuse that my 50 gallon fish tank has broken in my apartment and has flooded everything including the floor under me... but, I didn't even have a fish tank 🙂

    July 23, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  3. jonathan sauer

    I faked an allergy to brasso as a private in the army.

    As punishment I'd been ordered to brasso all the door plates in battalion headquarters. I took some niacin (a vitamin), which causes a flushing reaction, makes your skin turn red. It worked.

    July 23, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  4. Minda

    While working for a major insurance carrier as a Claims Representative, I regularly told my male boss that I was in pain from female problems. When further probed I told him I had been diagnosed with sore ovaries. It worked throughout my tenure and was the source of great laughter amongst my girlfriends and me.

    July 23, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  5. Dan

    I was on a bad date a few months ago, I faked a phone call about my dog having a seizure so I could leave. I don't regret it for a minute. I recently met the girl of my dreams!

    July 23, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  6. robin redd

    I have called in due to bad weather but who would'nt esp when you live in Arkansas and never get snow. Mother always said don't even make a face at someone because it may stay that way. So I guess a brain tumor would be totally out of the question!

    July 23, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  7. Andrew Davis

    I once missed my ride to work and my cell phone was turned off and the olny number I could call was 911.That day I HAD TO BE THERE. Well the hospital was by my work, so I called 911 and faked chest pain- ambulance got me to the hospital and I jumped out ran about 5 blocks and MADE IT TO WORK ON TIME!!!!

    July 23, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  8. Robert Noble

    I used to fake reasons to avoid going to school, and I was soon being 'ignored, becoming the 'boy who cried wolf'.- so to speak.

    Anyway, after a while I couldn't stay home from school unless I was running' a body temperature of one-hundred & six! Or vomiting every two minutes with a headache, and unable to stand! (perhaps I'm exaggerating... (just a little)

    To make a long story short... I turned out to not want to go to school, because I was suffering from:

    a "high functioning" form of AUTISM, known as "Asperger's Syndrome".

    Moral of the story, don't be so quick to punish your children, I am an adult now, and I have so many terrible memories of the punishment meted out to me, for that, that I'm permanently damaged I feel....

    July 23, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  9. MrChrisGonzo

    My excuse once was that I accidentally locked my kids inside the house! =X

    July 23, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  10. Ron in Arkansas

    As a small business owner, I have heard my share of reasons for employees missing work. My favorite is when Chuck "called in well". He told me he simply felt too good that day to come to work.

    July 23, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  11. Larry Wittenberg

    Fake stories

    The dog swallowed my keys and I have to wait for them to go through him

    Freezingrain froze my tires to the driveway

    One of the baby pigs got loose and got in the cold air return vent for the furnace
    I have to take the ductwork apart to rescue him

    July 23, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  12. Shay

    I think that is horrible and pretty desperate for the teacher to lie about the brain tumor just to get time off work. She must have been pretty stressed out and that is when it is time to ask your employer for a personal leave...even a family medical leave if u are overwhelmed. I have used some pretty drastic excuses my self to get some time off. I have told my employer I have a heart condition...I get really bad migraines and can't stand up...all type of things to get time off. It's all pretty bad and we should just be real with our employers and ask for personal time!!

    July 23, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  13. Patricia Lynne

    You should be asking a far more valid question: did the school officials ask for medical proof of her condition? If she received paid time off for 16 years, the paid time off came from the PA tax payers; PA property taxpayers paid for her time off. She took her family to Florida? I do not believe her family did not know she was not ill. Surely they knew she had no tumor. Chemo treatments make the recipient ill. A teacher I work with had chemo; her hair fell out; she was thinner, tired, and had a real need to take time off.

    Plus, most school systems, did you know, have an option for employess to DONATE one day of their earned sick leave to a sick bank to help their fellow teachers who have a catastrophic illness? How many teachers in her school gave up days and then the system gave these donated days to her when her earned sick leave was exhausted? She stole, yes, stole from the taxpayers, her colleagues, and from her students. She was supposed to be there for them! The school board hired her 20 years ago; if she was nominated 3 x for a TOY AWARD, she must have been effective, but taking those days off robbed her students of her skills.

    When I see real people with real cancers, her deception is even more egregious. I taught a 7th grader decades ago who developed bone cancer; 18 months later, at age 15 , he died, torn too soon from his family. Just last year, another young boy I taught died from brain cancer at age 17, having fought valiantly. Her "blue" brain tumor? Is her excuse depression? All school systems have options for treatment via their personnel departments. She lied for personal selfish gain.

    I have seen teachers come to work whose family members are ill, in nursing homes, or overseas in war zones. I have worked with teachers who are overworked, tired, and yet stay the course. They stay late 2-3 days a week to tutor after school, come in early before school starts, mentor clubs, and spend their own monies for classroom materials because every school system has a financial crunch. This woman insults those of us who take pride in being members of this profession. Teaching is not a job-it is a commitment to our students .

    July 23, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  14. pat in louisiana

    in grammar school, I would sometimes have to get lunch on credit. Cafeteria workers sometimes did something to make me feel badly about that. I can't recall exactly what . Maybe they made comments about how high the bill was and other students could hear. Stubbornly, i chose to quit eating lunch. My mother did substitute teaching there and when she came one day to teach ,a friend told her I had been skipping lunch.I claimed that the worker had told me I couldn't charge anymore. Well, all hell broke loose. My Grandfather who was about the highest tax paying individual in the rural area took them all to task and was humiliated that I had lied. He never forgot that I could actually be dishonest. My punishment was banishment from my favorite family ritual of anafternoon watermelon break in the peach orchard. I became painfully honest. Well, most of the time.

    July 23, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  15. Matt Crill

    Called in with a vision problem: told them I couldn't see myself coming in today

    July 23, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  16. Steve

    Sadly you are missing the real story here. She suffered from depression, but that still carries such a stigma in our society that she chose to lie to cover that up. Teachers are evaluated on their emotional well being as well as their knowledge of content area, and evaluated by principals who are not qualified to judge either. Of course this doesn't excuse such behavior, it is awful. However, it is hardly comparable to the other pop culture scammers mentioned in the story.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  17. Wilson Garland

    I never would have made any excuse to take a day off because I loved my job so much that the first day, when I came home, I went to bed early so I could hurry up and get back to work! I worked for 21 years knowing that when I got to top pay after 5 years that, other than cost of living, I could go no further unless I moved at least 100 miles. At 21 years of service the imposable came true and I was promoted in place only to find out 30 days later that, because of downsizing, I would no longer have a job. Eighteen months later I left a job that I loved for 23+ years. For the past 23 years I have often had dreams of being called back to the job I will always love.

    This country has millions of people, just like me, that go to sleep every night longing for a great life that they have lost because of corporate greed and all we hear on the news is fat cats telling us to move 1,000 miles that there is a fast food company that has a low paying job that we should feel fortunate to get!

    Wilson Garland

    July 23, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  18. lakesish miller

    I lied a few times about me being horribly sick to stay out of work but I learned to stop because when I did get horribly sick then I was told to come to work or else. I did have a co worker who lied to stay out of work by saying she was at the hospital and was going to have immediate surgery when all the time she was staying home to spy on her husband to see if she could catch him cheating.

    July 23, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  19. Angie

    When I was put in charge one hot June morning at the fabric craft store where I worked, 3 employees called about having final exams scheduled that day. I called the manager and told her that I had no one to work the store with me for 4 hours until the next scheduled employee would be there at noon. The manager could only get in touch with two other employees to fill in.

    When the manager came at her scheduled time, she was very upset. It turned out that she saw the 3 employees at the mall. Those 3 employees did not know that when our company was unable to get us the items quick enough for our customers, our manager would run her errands in the morning, going to our sister store near that mall and stopping by a competitor located in the mall to get the items we needed for our customers. Of course she called them to her office the next day handing them their termination papers.

    Did this really happen? Yes!

    Moral of the story: Don't lie to take a day off, then go to a place where the manager can see you.

    July 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  20. Sylvia

    I believe she only meant to tell a lie to get off work. She must have been so depressed and needed some time off to regroup. She isn't good at telling lies so without thought she spoke. It wasn't for attention that she did this. That was just the start of her depression. She was able to get the time off and I'm sure she laid around and slept a lot thinking this would help her. Doing it the first time made it easier to keep doing it. She isn't the first person that has lied and it just got out of control. What she has done is more common then we would think. Most cases isn't on TV. The family deals with it when the lie catches up with them. They find a way to have doctor excuses. The job is the one that discovers something with the excuse and the depressed person gets fired,. They kill themselves because they they can't live with being caught . This one went to jail. She needs help not jail.

    July 24, 2010 at 2:51 am |
  21. The former co-worker

    I know it is very easy for everyone to judge Leslie... @ Patricia Lynne, on some of the things that you said, you make some good points, but over all Leslie is a wonderful person and she made a HORRIBLE mistake. For you to say her family was aware is wrong because they did not! In the end the truth will come out and I hope she gets help with whatever caused her to make the decisions she made, not jail time!

    August 1, 2010 at 11:14 am |