By Tim Jimenez and Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A special education teacher at a Northeast Philadelphia elementary school turned herself in to police Wednesday morning.
She’s accused of having a consensual sexual relationship with her 14-year-old male student.
Stephanie Amato, 30, is facing charges including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault.
She is a special education teacher at the Ethan Allen School just off Harbison Avenue in Mayfair.
“Everyone is upset over it,” parent Mary Ann Bailey said.
Parents were stunned to hear the allegations, calling it a serious betrayal if proven true.
“She was very involved with my oldest son and it’s very shocking to me. It doesn’t seem like she would be a person to do something like that. She was a great teacher for him,” parent Lori Hunt said.
According to the District Attorney’s office, Amato had an ongoing sexual relationship with one of her male students between March and April of this year.
The alleged encounters with the 14-year-old happened in her car and her home.
No one answered the door at Amato’s parents’ home in the Northeast.
“It has been an ongoing investigation. The time when the allegations came in, that triggered the removal of the teacher from the building,” Philadelphia School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard said.
The Philadelphia School District indicates as of now there does not appear to be more than one student involved.
“It is very disturbing, and it’s something we take very seriously therefore we work very closely with Philadelphia Police and will take their lead,” Gallard said.
The school did send home a letter to parents on Monday alerting them about the arrest of the 30-year-old teacher.
“Let them know about the arrest and we are working very closely with Philadelphia Police in regards to the allegations that have been brought forward,” Gallard said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the school’s principal released a statement that reads, in part:
“The School District of Philadelphia was informed this morning by the Philadelphia Police Department that Stephanie M. Amato, a special education teacher at Ethan Allen Elementary School, was arrested for allegations of sexual contact with a minor. The arrest did not occur at or near our school. Ms. Amato was relocated to a School District administrative office at the time the allegation was initially made.
The School District and our school are working closely with the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted.”
Amato has been a teacher in the district for several years.
She will be suspended without pay.
Parents can contact the principal, Cassandra Houston, with questions and concerns at 215-537-2530.