The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 3, 2013

Former teacher disciplined for behavior with students

By Dan Nienaber
dnienaber@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — A former teacher facing a felony child pornography charge resigned from his job at Hoover Elementary school two years ago after being disciplined twice for inappropriate behavior with students.

Paul Louis Conrad, 46, of North Mankato was arrested Nov. 12 after a Mankato police officer was called to Minnesota State University's Centennial Library by a campus security officer. An employee at the library had reported Conrad had been using a computer to look at pictures of young females wearing swimsuits and topless. He had caught the attention of two men and a woman who were studying in the library. Those witnesses told police Conrad was looking at pictures of girls between the ages of 8 and 12.

The computer was turned over to police and Conrad was charged with one felony count of possession of child pornography. His attorney, Jim Fleming, said then that there wasn't enough information in the criminal complaint to justify the charge. Conrad was released from custody without bail after appearing in court Nov. 14.

Information obtained by The Free Press through a public records request from Mankato Area Public Schools describes what led up to Conrad's resignation from his job as a second-grade teacher at Hoover Elementary School in North Mankato on Nov. 21, 2011. Conrad had been hired in 2005 and also worked as a teacher at Kennedy Elementary School in Mankato. Prior to being hired by the Mankato school district, Conrad worked as a teacher at Holy Rosary School in Mankato and St. Anne's School in Le Sueur.

Four complaints about Conrad were investigated by Mankato Area Public Schools officials between 2009 and 2011, according to information released Monday. The complaint in 2009 resulted in no disciplinary action.

Complaints filed in 2010 and 2011 did result in Conrad being disciplined. The 2010 complaint resulted in written discipline and an unpaid suspension for two days. After the first of two 2011 complaints, Conrad was issued a "last chance" warning. Both complaints resulted from Conrad failing to follow warnings about his behavior with students.

"The employee had demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behavior with students, mostly involving an interest in female student's feet," said JoAnne May, director of human resources for the district, in a response to a request for information about Conrad's employment. "He received the discipline for his clear lack of adherence to appropriate and professional teacher-student boundaries."

The last-chance warning cited the same behavior.

After a second 2011 complaint was filed the following fall, Conrad agreed to voluntarily resign. The nature of that complaint can't be disclosed by the district because Conrad resigned and there was no disciplinary action, according to state law.

Conrad's teaching license, which was supposed to expire in 2014, is no longer valid, according to information provided on the Internet by the Minnesota Department of Education.