Tuesday, March 5, 2013

NJ Teacher of the Year Admits Sexual Relationship with Student

Erica DePalo, 33-year-old former English teacher at West Orange High School in Montclair, New Jersey, has pleaded guilty to child endangerment and will have to register as a sex offender and forfeit her teacher’s license.

DePalo, the winner of last year’s Essex County’s “Teacher of the Year”, was initially charged with aggravated sexual assault and sexual abuse, for which could have gotten up to 10 years in prison if convicted.  She was arrested early in September 2012  and accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student she taught in her honor’s English class, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The relationship allegedly began in June and ended on August 28.

Depalo was suspended "immediately and indefinitely" by the school district, according to a released statement by James O’Neill, West Orange School District superintendent.  "We have been advised by the Essex County Prosecutors Office that one of our employees has been arrested; the district has taken strong action by suspending the employee immediately   and indefinitely.  The school district will cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in every way.  The West Orange School District prides itself on being vested in the health, safety and welfare of our students, to that end counselors will be available at West Orange High School beginning at noon on Tuesday September 4th, and every day after as long as needed."

Erica Depalo had worked at the high school since 2003 and was chosen as the 2011-12 County Teacher of the Year, which is part of the state Department of Education’s New Jersey Teacher of the Year program. she also was selected as one of the five finalists for the Teacher of the Year in the same program same year.  At the time she was named Essex County Teacher of the Year, and honored by the Essex County Freeholders, she claimed to be working on her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership at The College of New Jersey.

Erica DePalo Admits Sex with Teen

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