The high of Erica Depalo's career was probably being named Teacher of the Year in 2011. The low? Probably being charged with sexual assault for having sex with one of her students.
Depalo was charged on Friday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. The unidentified male was one of her honors English students. But he wasn't receiving extra credit for the time he spent with her outside of class.
Authorities say the two had been having a relationship from mid-June until late August, reports Fox News.
Depalo was named Essex County's Teacher of the Year last year. After winning the award she made a video where she talked about how all the students are her children.
That statement doesn't sound as warm and fuzzy given the charges against her. Now it's more like weird and creepy.
She's charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering a child. The school district has suspended her, reports Tampa Bay 10 News.
Meanwhile, her students are shocked by the allegations.
Several of her students have said that she doesn't seem like the kind of person who would do these things. At least one student has said he thinks she's innocent.
Depalo is also the junior varsity tennis coach at West Orange High School where she has taught English since 2003.
A sexual relationship between teacher and student is often statutory rape and it likely is in this case too. Minors cannot consent to sexual contact and in almost every state, 15 is too young to consent.
Any sexual activity between Depalo and the student she was allegedly involved with would be a crime.
The Teacher of the Year turned alleged sexual predator posted bail and was awaiting arraignment on Tuesday. For now Erica Depalo is keeping a low profile.