Former St. Paul charter school substitute teacher charged with classroom sexual misconduct with student

13 May 2024

A former St. Paul charter school substitute teacher has been charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student in a classroom.

Caitlin Kalia Thao, 24, of St. Paul, faces third-degree criminal sexual conduct for the alleged encounter this year at St. Paul City School. An arrest warrant was issued May 1 and she remains out of custody. An attorney is not listed in her court case file.

Eric Fergen, the school’s interim executive director, said Monday that Thao resigned Feb. 27 “before any knowledge of this incident was shared with our leadership.”

Thao was hired by the school as a paraprofessional on Feb. 21, 2023, and became a substitute teacher after getting her license in December, Fergen said in an emailed statement, adding they “followed all human resources processes including a criminal background check.”

According to the criminal complaint, police on Feb. 23, 2024, received a report of alleged sexual misconduct regarding Thao and a 17-year-old student. Fergen told police about complaints from staff and others about Thao having “inappropriate behavior with students, the complaint states. Thao was asked to meet with a school principal on Feb. 26, then resigned.

Police spoke with the boy on March 13. He said that Thao was “overly nice” and that they would talk through messenger apps. Thao called him handsome and would flirt with him, the boy said, according to the complaint. He said he flirted back “because she would buy stuff for him and his friends.”

The boy told police a sexual encounter occurred in a middle school classroom about a month and a half prior. He said Thao then sent him an Instagram message about it and invited him to her place when her husband wasn’t home. The boy declined the offer.

The complaint says that on March 9 a Regions Hospital social worker completed a child maltreatment form after Thao reported that she had a “sexual relationship” with a 17‐year‐old student at the school.

Thao did not respond to requests from police for an interview, the complaint says.

St. Paul City School, located along University Avenue near the Capitol, has been around since 1998. It has 600 students from preschool through grade 12 and employs 64 licensed staff members and 84 non-licensed staff members, according to a March brochure.

“Any inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student will never be tolerated,” Fergen said Monday. “We strive every day to foster a genuinely safe and caring community for each student.”

The school is “supporting the student and family” and cooperating with police, Fergen said.

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