Two high school teachers were arrested for allegedly having sex with students during two trips at an Orange County beach, one overnight, authorities said.
Melody Lippert, 38, and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of having sex with students at their school, South Hills High, during trips to the beach where they brought alcohol for the students, Orange County Sheriff's investigators said Saturday.
The first of the trips to the beach took place in November, investigators said, when a group of male students accompanied Lippert to San Clemente State Beach, where she provided alcohol to the group and had sex with one of them, investigators allege.
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Weeks later, Lippert brought Ghirelli on a second trip to the beach, where both allegedly had sex with students during an overnight stay, police said.
Lippert, the teacher who allegedly organized the first trip, was arrested on charges of conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The student was believed to be over 18.
"I've known her since like I was 4. She's a really nice person and I would never think that she would do something like this," said student Keanu Estrada about Lippert.
Ghirelli was arrested on sex-with-a-minor charges, investigators said.
Both teachers live in Covina, in Los Angeles County, though this article originally incorrectly stated where they are from.
School officials said other teachers alerted authorities when they began to hear rumors about the crimes.
Neither trip was sponsored by the school, investigators said, a point emphasized by a spokeswoman for the Covina-Valley Unified School District.
Both teachers were placed on paid administrative leave pending the result of the investigation on Sunday, school district spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said.
She had no comment on the nature of the allegations. "I think it's best to leave that up to the investigation. Obviously we have to respect their rights to privacy," Van Der Linden said.
It's the second sex-related allegation involved at West Covina's South Hills High School in a week. Anthony Vidales, a 29-year-old part-time girls' wrestling coach, was arrested on Jan. 7 for allegedly having inapporpriate contact with a 17-year-old student at South Hills, police announced on Tuesday, Jan. 13.
He was a contract worker, who worked part time for the school, according to a West Covina Police Department statement released the next week.
The investigation into the female teachers began Friday, when the West Covina Police Department obtained information about the relationships and informed the OC Sheriff's Department, investigators said.
Both were released, according to Orange County Jail records. There was no answer at a phone number listed for one of the teachers, while there was no contact information immediately available for the other.
“I’m honestly shocked, I’m really shocked,” said parent Roza Hajialiakbar. “This can’t go on. Who does this?”
Deputies ask anyone with information to call 714-647-7000.
Gadi Schwartz and City News Service contributed to this report.