NEWARK — A New Jersey woman recently named a county’s teacher of the year was in court Wednesday to answer charges that she had sex with a 15-year-old boy enrolled in an honors class she taught.
A lawyer for Erica DePalo, 33, of Montclair, entered a not guilty plea for her at a hearing in Superior Court in Newark. DePalo faces charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and child endangerment. The boy was in her honors English class and the two allegedly carried on what prosecutors described in court documents as a sexual relationship from June until recently.
DePalo has been indefinitely suspended from her job teaching English at West Orange High School, according to school officials. Her attorney said she had been a teacher for nearly a decade. DePalo was named Essex County’s teacher of the year in 2011.
Her lawyer, Anthony Alfano, said DePalo maintained her innocence and was ‘‘extremely grateful for the overwhelming amount of support’’ she had been receiving from other teachers and community members since her arrest.