Friday, May 10, 2013

Former Teacher of The Year Gets Probation in Student Sex Scandal

Erica DePalo, 33-year-old former English teacher at West Orange High School in Montclair, New Jersey, who  pleaded guilty in February to child endangerment, was sentenced to parole- she got a three-year suspended sentence, meaning she will not serve jail time.

DePalo will have to register as a sex offender and forfeit her teacher’s license.  DePalo suffered from depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder during the sexual affair with teen boy, her attorneys said in court. Her mental state was factored into her plea deal and her attorney Anthony Alfano said: ‘She was functioning in the classroom, but she was feeling it inside. She was heavily, heavily depressed.’ DePalo had previously been prescribed anti-depressants, which Alfano said should not have been given to a bi-polar sufferer.
Under the influence of the drugs ‘She thought she was too good, that she could do anything’, he said.

DePalo, the winner of year 2011 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  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 Got No Jail Time For Teen Sex

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