By Victor Skinner
WEST ORANGE, NJ – A New Jersey educator went from “Teacher of the Year” to accused sexual predator over the summer, and now faces multiple criminal charges.
Erica DePalo, 33, of Montclair, is charged with first- and second-degree aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child after she allegedly carried on a sexual affair with a 15-year-old student at West Orange High School between mid-June and the end of August, the Daily Mail reports.
She was being held in a Northern New Jersey jail on a $100,000 bail during the Labor Day weekend.
DePalo worked at the high school and coached the junior varsity tennis team since 2003, the news site reports. When she accepted her award last year as part of state education department’s “New Jersey Teacher of the Year” program she claimed to be “merely a representative of all the hardworking dedicated teachers, especially those with whom I work at West Orange High School,” according to media reports.
We certainly hope that’s not the case.
School district officials did the right thing and immediately removed DePalo from the classroom. If the allegations are true, they must make sure she isn’t allowed back.
“The district has taken strong action by suspending the employee immediately and indefinitely,” Superintendent James O’Neill said in a statement, according to the Daily Mail.
School officials plan to “cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in every way,” he said.