Yet another educator has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. This time, it’s Erica DePalo, an English instructor and tennis coach at West Orange High School in Essex County, NJ. She was named 2011’s “Teacher of the Year,” based on her highly moving video where 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.”
If the allegations against her are true, she clearly took one student a little too near and dear to her heart, and other parts of her. The relationship between the 33-year-old woman and a 15-year-old honors English student began around June 15, continuing through the end of August.
DePalo was “immediately and indefinitely” suspended by the school district. She was also charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child on Friday. Her bail was set at $100,000.
What’s going on with these educators? Is it having the authority over students that makes them think it’s okay to engage in a sexual relationship with teenagers? Is it that there is a narrowed margin in the ages of the students and the teachers? Is it the teenagers? Not in a blaming way, but have you seen how some teenagers dress? And many teens are overtly sexual. Is it in some way the teens that have the power in these situations?