CRIME

Erica DePalo, Former 'Teacher Of The Year' Pleads Guilty To Sex With 15-Year-Old Student

02/19/2013 07:02 pm ET

A former "teacher of the year" has admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old male student.

Erica DePalo, 33, who previously taught English at West Orange High School in New Jersey, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child on Tuesday, according to the Star Ledger.

Erica DePalo will receive a three-year suspended sentence and life parole supervision under the terms of the plea agreement when she is sentenced April 29. She can apply for relief from parole supervision after 15 years.

DePalo also must undergo a psychological evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, forfeit her teaching license and never seek public employment. DePalo must register as a sex offender under Megan's Law and cannot have contact with the victim.

DePalo won the Essex County, N.J. Teacher of the Year award in 2011. In October she was arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her honors English students, CBS New York reported at the time.

"I was kind of shocked,” West Orange student Arnold Ajondo told CBS New York. ”I was a little surprised. She was really close with the students and we all liked her. She was always there after school if you ever needed any help.”

Another student told the Huffington Post in September that DePalo was "very defensive."

"She was flirtatious with students," Sean Davis, 22, a graduate of Rutgers University said. "If you said one thing wrong about her -- even if it was a joke -- she would be very defensive."

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