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Erica DePalo, former 'Teacher of the Year,' accused of having sex with 15-year-old student

Essex County Prosecutor's Office

Erica Depalo was named Essex County's "Teacher of the Year" in 2011.

A woman who was named Essex County, N.J.’s “Teacher of the Year” in 2011 has been suspended from her job after being accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student.

West Orange High School teacher Erica DePalo, 33, of Montclair, was charged Friday with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced.

DePalo is accused of having an illegal sexual relationship with a male student she taught in her honors English class, according to acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.

DePalo, who in addition to teaching English was also the junior varsity tennis coach, began a sexual relationship with the student on or about June 15, according to West Orange Police Detective Louis Mignone. The relationship continued until Aug. 28, Mignone said.

Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin set bail at $100,000.

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DePalo was suspended "immediately and indefinitely" by the school district, according to a statement by West Orange School District Superintendent James O’Neill, the Montclair Patch reported

According to northjersey.com, DePalo made a video after winning Essex County Teacher of the Year in 2011 and in it she said, “I don’t have any children. And I always say that I don’t have any children to go home and take care of, but every morning and every day that I go to school I have 110 children that are very near and dear to my heart.”

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